City versus County
supporter
Posted by MRH (+1527) 14 years ago
Hi,

I suppose I am kicking a hornet's nest, but am kind of surprised no one has brought up this topic for discussion. Talk is cheap, seems there needs to be some showing of budgets, then beneficial discussions can begin.

I am wondering how Major Joe and friends plan on identifying us County folks. Best be sneaky and fast, I've learned a thing or two from wrestling bucks and rams over the years when I was trying to apply identification.

Hope the groups can be civil about this matter. I use to look at the goings on in the City and be glad I lived in the County, now the City is infringing on what I can do in the City just because I live in the County. I think the last sentence made about as much sense as some of what is going on in town.

I sure hope all of you have a Good Day and Happy and Safe Holiday Season.
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supporter
Posted by Richard Bonine, Jr (+15285) 14 years ago
Can you give an example of what you are talking about when you say " now the City is infringing on what I can do in the City just because I live in the County." (Why do I suspect the fire department )
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supporter
Posted by MRH (+1527) 14 years ago
Hi Richard,

You need to read the Miles City Star this week and see what has been proposed. It includes things like use of the library, parks, etc. It is pretty ***** unbelieveable. Tell your folks hello for me.

It should have been Mayor Joe in the first post and 'used to live', but we cannot edit after another has posted.

[This message has been edited by MRH (edited 12/13/2007).]
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Posted by Eric Brandt (+842) 14 years ago
The County renigged on their agreement with the City for compensation.

It has been nasty.

The County is not paying their fair share of the services and therefore, the City is looking at limiting services to paying members.

I won't say any more because I have agreed to a truce for the holidays.
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supporter
Posted by Richard Bonine, Jr (+15285) 14 years ago
MRH: Maybe you will have to declare "Marshall law"
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supporter
Posted by MRH (+1527) 14 years ago
Hi,

Good one Richard. Hope you have a good day.

Eric, the big question to me is 'Why did this happen?' You continue to be good and non challenging. You know we are watching.
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Posted by Eric Brandt (+842) 14 years ago
Well, the story goes back almost a year and a half.

The City recognized that the County's contribution was "behind the curve" based on several complex, yet well defined factors. Mayor Whalen negotiated with them and they agreed to an increase schedule.

Then they backed out of the deal.

They had been re-negotiating until fairly recently. The City wants to have a discussion with all the council present, and the county would prefer to defer discussion to attorneys at this point. (spending more of your money on NOT the services being provided)

Also, the numbers that were published in the paper the other day were not accurate by my math. The figure the County said they paid looked about 70,000 short of reality.

The relationship between city and county is actually fairly complex from a financial point of view. There is a lot of service overlap, and the percentages do not always match from one service to the other. It is further complicated by the fact that some residents of the county also live in the city. City residents are of course paying the city levies AND county levies. County residents do not pay city levies, but still use some of the services paid for by city budget.

For example, is it reasonable to expect that NO county people will use Riverside Park? Can we bar county residents from ambulance services? Should we place a restriction at the library that only city residents can borrow books? What of MCC? Water? Sewer?

While the Mayor and I clearly have our differences, I'm afraid that I will stand on principle wherever I see it. And Mayor Whalen has my full support on this issue. If the County does not pay their fair share, then the City should withhold services. IF the County Residents don't like it, then they should join their very well paid county commissioners in their office and discuss their concerns.

Keep in mind that this issue is now a year and a half old. This means that for 18 months, the City has been paying for services that the County has been enjoying at a significant discount. City dwellers should ALSO join their well paid commissioners since they live in the county too, and this issue affects the quality of their civic services as well.

I wonder how this issue will effect re-elections next year?
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Posted by JOE WHALEN (+622) 14 years ago
Thanks, Marshall, for firing up this thread. I'm here to answer any questions that you or others may have concerning the Interlocal, beginning with "Why did this happen?", if Eric will yield. And thank you, Eric, for your support on this issue and for making two really excellent points, namely, that a) 75% of those paying taxes into the Custer County treasury live within the City of Miles City and b) the Interlocal Agreement is complex and involves the exchange of several services. That's a good place to begin.

To those points, I would add that the County and the City have successfully negotiated interlocal agreements stretching back to 1955, without undue rancor. We make these agreements to provide essential services to the City & County without duplication, to leverage statutory requirements of the City, and to offer City/County taxpayers and ratepayers the best available value in public services.

Let's get this party started...
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Posted by Eric Brandt (+842) 14 years ago
:tips_hat:
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supporter
Posted by MRH (+1527) 14 years ago
Hi,

Thanks Eric and Mayor Joe for posting the information. I am curious about the sticking points and how it will all turn out. I tend to avoid politics and debates, but I do have an inquiring mind. My interest was heightened, when it appeared County folks could not use some services. Library, I can see; MCC (mentioned by Eric), I pay to use the CENTRA; Parks, I may have to tread lightly during the Quick Draw. Just curious Mayor how you were going to keep track of all of us folks.

I understand how the systems, being intertwined lends a high level of complexity to the problem. Might be hard to set budgets side by side to compare incomes and expenses but sooner or later it appears it will have to be done, and maybe it already has been completed. Good luck to you folks involved in the process, and let me know if it is safe to come to town and use the facilities after the first of the year.
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Posted by Art Jacobsen (+51) 14 years ago
What distresses me is that we elect public officials to handle issues such as this and they decide to stonewall the process of good faith negotiation.

Allowing this situation to drag on as long as it has does not speak well for the officials on either side.

Your job is to do the peoples business. Do your job.

I don't now and don't want in the future to think of my friends, neighbors and customers as "county or city" folks. We are all people who live, work and play together. I want our elected officials on both sides get to work to bring us all together with an agreement based on good faith negotiation.

Public officials who chose to obstruct this process will lose my support in the future.
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Posted by Larry (+154) 14 years ago
It might be time to think of a city county consolidation like Rosebud County. This would solve all of the problems and save money also by no duplicating services. What do you all think of this?
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supporter
Posted by Gunnar Emilsson (+17949) 14 years ago
If 75% of Custer County lives within Miles City city limits, then by all means consolidate into one city/county government. I work with Butte-Silver Bow and Anaconda-Deer Lodge counties all the time, they are great to deal with. Having a consolidated government is an efficient way to go. Who needs two governments bickering at each other? I would think even Democrats and Republicans could agree on this.

Montana has far, far too many counties for the number of people who live here. Its far past time that we begin to shrink the size of government, and consolidate services.
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Posted by Dan (+461) 14 years ago
I think, but I may be wrong, that city/county consolidation has been discussed in the past but was at that time decided against??
Am I correct in that the city and county made an agreement and that the county is not paying what they agreed to pay? Or is it that the city is asking for more than what was agreed upon? Just trying to get my facts sorted out here so I can form an opinion...
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Posted by Mayor (+136) 14 years ago
First, the good news. Passing the resolution on Tuesday night has inspired the Commissioners and the City Council to resume talks next week. It's a first step.

I'm going to answer the main questions in this thread to the best of my ability but I may not get to each. However, I will commit to at least printing all of your comments and distributing them to the City Council and the County Commissioners during our meetings since very few have cell phones and even fewer use e-mail or the web(!). We all need to hear your views, particularly those of you who currently live within the City/County.

Long-term Resolution~
The issue of City/County consolidation is picking up steam again from different circles. Unfortunately, it's an issue that may be even more emotionally-charged than the fire dept. in our community. But the time may be ripe with the current slate of Commissioners to pursue it. If we've reached the point that the Interlocal Agreement is this contentious, wouldn't it be better to at least consider another structure than to go through this every year? I'm told that when Butte-Silverbow consolidated, the process required four years of negotiations, but that the end result has been worthwhile.

Annexation may provide another shorter-term solution. In addition to the 75% of Miles City voters already supporting the County budget by paying County taxes there's another 10-15% of County residents living directly adjacent to city limits in various additions and tracts. They don't pay City taxes and they receive a 20% discount on delivered water and sewer services through the Custer County Water & Sewer District. During the work day, many of those citizens use City streets, library, parks, police, fire & ambulance, and benefit from the planning services that help retain and attract businesses. Why? Because the City has allowed it.

However we negotiate our terms, I'm going to insist that these meetings with the County fully comply with Open Meeting, Public Participation, & Conflict-of-Interest statutes. That said, I want to keep these responses easily digestible so I'll close by saying to Art, "I hear you." But it's not a perfect world...
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supporter
Posted by Bridgier (+9424) 14 years ago
Boy, there's nothing that pisses the freeloaders, er, fearless individualists off more here in Boise then annexation. "What!" they cry, "you mean I have to help pay for the infrastructure I use on a daily basis? That's Socialism!!"
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Posted by Steve Sullivan (+1416) 14 years ago
So do you make visitors pay as well? I'm just curious why it worked in the past and what is the impetus for the change?
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Posted by J Scheuering (+7) 14 years ago
I think Art Jacobson makes a VERY valuable point. We stand to lose a lot of valuable momentum if we spend our time drawing lines in the sand. In the 80's, I became a Michels Addition resident because I had more dogs than city ordinance permitted. Soon after, the city council began talking about annexation. We were pronounced to be "freeloaders" by two of the council members. This caused a great deal of hard feelings, and I know I personally withdrew from some city/county projects. Later, the city learned that it would inherit a huge debt load if they annexed us because the Michels Addition had defaulted on its improvement district. Suddenly all talk of annexation ceased, the Michels Addition restructured their debt and everyone became friends again.

Miles City and Custer County are currently on the threshold of becoming either a thriving community, or a forgotten town depending on how we use our resources. If we become embroiled in local disputes, what new businesses will have an interest in moving here? How many county residents will choose Miles City as a shopping destination if they are made to feel like intruders?

I'm not denying there are serious issues, but I feel that posturing and side choosing will do little but create even larger issues.
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Posted by Eric Brandt (+842) 14 years ago
I think that City Residents - paying City Taxes should be issues fluorescent arm bands. Similar bands could be purchased at City Hall for a ridiculous fee.

This band will clearly identify who is contributing and who is not. It would then be a very simple matter of walking through park and shooting freeloaders on sight.

Case solved.
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Posted by Tracie Fox (+20) 14 years ago
I am interested in learning more about how the politics of the city and the county actually operate because I think it may help my overall understanding of the situation that we are in right now. But I must admit I was somewhat suprised by the Mayors comment of the 'city allowing' the county residents to use the parks, library, and planning that has made the local businesses possible. Suprised due to the fact that not only does city residents money make the local business' survive but the county residents money as well.

A question that I have is if, per say, the ambulance services where cut off from the county how would that affect any vehicle accidents or emergency situations that occurred outside of city limits. Will the ambulance be able to respond to a MVA that is on the highway outside of town or will that be up to the county EMT's to respond? I can see the fact that those of us who live outside city limits having to pay for fire services if we are not under contract with the county/city fire, but aren't all ambulance services chargable reguardless of where they occur, in or out of town?

The point was brought up earlier that how is it that visitors that do not live in Miles City or Custer County don't pay to use the parks or other public facilities. It brings up the point of how do you differentiate between a county and city resident? I guess I have never sat down at a park with my family or stopped to let the kids swing when we were out of town and wondered if that was okay with the residents that live in that town, be it Billings MT or Las Vegas NV. It starts to sound rather petty when we say that county residents are only able to use the parks because the 'city has allowed it'. I would like to see a city resident tell my four year old she can't swing at the park because her parents tax dollars didn't pay for it Seriously?
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Posted by Eric Brandt (+842) 14 years ago
Tracy,
I would encourage anyone to learn more about how their government really works. They will be immediately surprised at how involved it truly is.

Speaking for myself here, obviously it seems ridiculous to keep a "foreign" four-year-old off a swing in a public park. It would be nearly impossible to police that - and frankly not worth the effort.

As far as ambulance is concerned, of course the accident is "chargeable", but most people do not realize that the ambulance is heavily subsidized by the city, and we cannot charge what the service truly costs to operate. This is one of the primary reasons why privatization attempts have always failed - because we would still have to subsidize it by as much as or more than we already do.

So the problem becomes - how do we pay for these services which are IN FACT being used, and IN FACT going to continue to be used? The City is providing these services because the City Residents have asked for them. There is the logical understanding that you will use them too simply because they exist - even though you don't "pay" for them (over generalizing for sake of example...)

The City becomes financially obligated, but the County does not. The City is entirely at the mercy of the sound judgment of the Commissioners to "find it in their hearts" to agree to certain service exchanges for the benefit of everyone.

Now, in all fairness, the County has at least one semi-legitimate claim in my opinion. That being specifically the aforementioned Ambulance. When Butch re-appropriated the budget division between Fire and Ambulance - despite genuine expert advise, he created a serious problem. While everyone hailed that for the first time in (whenever) the Ambulance was in the Black! WOOHOO!

Unfortunately, this was bad at many levels. I was very vocal about these predictions at the time - and they all came true. First of all, it was a lie - that's not how the money is really being spent.(Go figure). Second of all, it was misleading - the Ambulance should never BE in the black in the first place. Third - if the Ambulance is in "in the black" then why do they charge so much? Why should I pay my bill? and finally, if the Ambulance is "in the black" then why does the County need to increase its subsidy?

Funny how lack of knowledge can hurt, even years down the road, isn't it?

So now we are stuck in a pickle jar. How do we keep paying for these services? Do we shut services down? What services can we deny the County if they are unwilling to kick in their "fair share"? What do we do if they simply refuse to contribute? We have no laws requiring them to pay us that I am aware of.

So the City is in the lose/lose situation. If they win, the County pays more money and the county-only residents will be mad. If the City loses, then the City has to restrict services and the County-only residents will be mad.

Not a position I would envy, for sure. No offense Joe, but I'm glad it's you and not me
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supporter
Posted by MRH (+1527) 14 years ago
Hi Bridgier and Eric,

Rest assured, some of us live in the County for more reasons than avoiding City Taxes, and no we do not get mad, because we have to pay for what we use. Just let us know what is owed, like with budgets, etc., and we can make a decision if we want it or not, partly based upon if we think the monies are being spent wisely. It is just, like us making the decision as to whether we will shop in Miles City, Billings, or over the internet. Please be careful about painting with too wide of a brush.

I started this thread, some what tongue in cheek, because identifying the outsiders, when Miles City businesses, etc. reap a lot of benefits from outsiders, seemed less than humerous. However, do not for one minute think I do not understand the seriousness of the subject. Cities, businesses, and individuals can go broke without sound budgeting.

I also hope the 'Powers to Be' the best in their deliberations. I know I do not want the job.

P.S. I am up early, because I am going to partake of some of the Counties' fine goose hunting. Hope you all have a good weekend.

[This message has been edited by MRH (edited 12/15/2007).]

[This message has been edited by MRH (edited 12/15/2007).]
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Posted by Tracie Fox (+20) 14 years ago
Thanks Eric for the quick lesson, I know I need more of an understanding to figure it all out, I am sure we all do. I agree with MRH in the fact that I think if we as city and county residents were presented with the facts about budget and realistic options, that we would be glad to make an educated and informed decision. As we can see with the city officials and the county commissioners, getting "mad" isn't going to solve a thing...rather allowing ourselves to think outside of the box may be more effective. Maybe this information has been presented to the public before and I obviously wasn't paying attention then, but I can assure you that I am now. I think that Miles City (and Custer County) as a whole have a lot of great things to offer and it would be a shame to tarnish that over the inability to see eye to eye. Let's figure it out like adults in an educated and reasonable manner.
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Posted by JOE WHALEN (+622) 14 years ago
The City has two fundamental choices: a) To continue to provide services to the County without compensation as we have since July 1st, or b) to terminate services until payment is remitted for services rendered and an agreement is reached providing a basis for future service delivery.

For the record, in the middle of wildfire season, when the County was most vulnerable, I submitted an offer to the County to simply rollover last year's Interlocal Agreement and use the winter to work out our differences for next year. That offer was promptly rejected by Commissioners Nesbitt, Matthews, and Huber. Despite that unreasonable reply, the City has extended services through the end of the year.

Let me clarify an earlier point: When I say that the City "allowed it to happen", I refer to subdivision development within the lawful planning jurisdiction of the City (4.5 miles beyond the city limits) without sufficient provisions for the impacts of that growth, i.e. demands for water/wastewater treatment capacity, utilities distribution pipelines, landfill capacity, streets, law enforcement, fire, and ambulance service.

In most municipalities, these extra demands are accommodated through annexation as well as the imposition of development and impact fees. In Miles City, the Interlocal Agreement has been the only remedy, until this year. Now, we're hung out to dry.

I am encouraged by the interest expressed from MRH and Ms. Fox in the budgets approved by both the Commissioners and the City Council. These documents are always available for your review at the Courthouse and City Hall.
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Posted by Tracie Fox (+20) 14 years ago
Boy am I getting an education, which by the way I truly do appreciate! So one question that I have is, are my county tax payer dollars set up to cover the cost of these services, and if so is it the commissioners that have decided not to pay what is owed with my money? Or is it that I am not being taxed to pay for these services at all? I know that I should have payed attention to this in the past but in all honesty I didn't. Truthfully, if I am not paying for the ambulance services as a county resident, I would like to be...hopefully I will never need them, but in the case that I do, I want me and my family to be covered. If I am paying for the services that are offered but the commissioners have opted to withhold payment to the city, then that should become an issue that we as county residents MUST bring up with our commissioners. It is our duty as residents to pay what is owed, and I am surely not against that as long as it allows me the security of knowing I have the services of the ambulance if I need them.
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Posted by Pete Petro (+279) 14 years ago
Correct me if I'm wrong. Didn't the article in the Star quote Jack Nesbitt as saying that the county was paying for everything and the city was getting a free ride. The exact opposite of what's being said here.
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supporter
Posted by howdy (+4942) 14 years ago
Tiz a puzzlement.
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supporter
Posted by Big Dave (+433) 14 years ago
Given the recent history of successful financial management by the city, I think the smart money here is on the commissioners.
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Posted by Chad Collins (+140) 14 years ago
"Annexation may provide another shorter-term solution. In addition to the 75% of Miles City voters already supporting the County budget by paying County taxes there's another 10-15% of County residents living directly adjacent to city limits in various additions and tracts. They don't pay City taxes and they receive a 20% discount on delivered water and sewer services through the Custer County Water & Sewer District. During the work day, many of those citizens use City streets, library, parks, police, fire & ambulance, and benefit from the planning services that help retain and attract businesses. Why? Because the City has allowed it."--Joe Whalen

Joe, I'm curious as to the respective actual dollar amounts involved. Are these numbers available? For example, what do the "county folks" (per person, family, etc.) actually owe for the services that you are suggesting be withheld? Do they correspond per capita with the amounts "owed" by the county?

Another question that was not addressed was the one that asked how the enforcement of the restrictions would be applied if this stalemate cannot be resolved. Any suggestions?
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supporter
Posted by MRH (+1527) 14 years ago
Hi,

Thanks but no thanks Mayor Joe, I am not coming to the Courthouse and reading the budgets. I am of the frame of mind, that if an elected official wants support for an idea, they should be willing to share the information with the masses, like via newspapers, town meetings, etc. I mean share details and not just words and some values.

Seems like I am on a fishing expedition here, as evidenced by questions continually posed by others. The rest of today and in the future, I'd rather go do something else than fish for information, so I'll leave the future of this forum thread to others. It appears it is in good hands.

Hope everyone is having a good weekend.

Marshall Haferkamp
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Posted by Michael A. Preller (+62) 14 years ago
Mr. Joe Wahlen,

I find it a bit humorous when I read your replies. Maybe you should resort to telling the whole story, not just the part you want to let the public see. What about the letter the Commissioners sent you in Late October that spelled out the areas of concern and the need for fair negoations? You need to understand that the Commissioners are required to account for all tax dollars, not just hand them over to the city. The county roads need fixed, bridges & buildings repaired ect. If per chance the city of Miles City applied that concept to their budget, they would be able to operate on the tax revenue they receive. Also, please understand All the residents of Custer County live in Montana and happen to be a pretty intelligent and resourceful group. We don't get real excited about idle threats and childish behavior from politicians. Remember, we all spend money at local businesses. For you to threaten county residents about entering your sacred city parks and use services isn't in the best interest of the local businessmen. Finally Mr. Mayor, I would incourage you to understand that Miles City and Custer County are a melting pot of families, some new but most are several generations old. We don't need a newcomer to try and stir up divisions within our community.

Michael Preller
proud County Resident
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founder
supporter
Posted by Amorette Allison (+12212) 14 years ago
Oh NO!!!!! Someone with fresh ideas who hasn't lived here for years wants to improve our community!!!! Run away!!!!

I'm curious. What is the cutoff time to allow someone who is a "newcomer" to be involved in life in Miles City? I'm the fourth generation of my family to live here but my family only came here in the early twentieth century with the Milwaukee. Have I been here long enough to qualify for involvement or, since my family has only been here 100 years, do I have to defer to "real" long-timers?

One generation? Two? Should we write it into ordinance that you must live in Miles City and Custer County for a certain length of time prior to becoming involved in the community? Is a mere decade long enough? That's how long it's been since I moved back after twenty years in wastern Montana? Have I been back long enough to be involved?

Please, I need to know the cut off! I'm on commissions that effect life in our community and I may not be qualified to serve unless I know how long I have to be here to count. I'm deeply involved in trying to make Miles City and Custer County a better place to live but I need to know if I have been here long enough to do that!
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supporter
Posted by Gunnar Emilsson (+17949) 14 years ago
One of the big problems of Miles City ARE the well-established families who have been there a long time. The in-breeding that exists in Miles City is well-known throughout the state. The Holy Rosary Hospital might be the only hospital in the state that has to employ a full-time specialist to snip off the tails and sixth fingers of the Custer County newborns.

A little new blood to add some diversity to the gene pool would be good thing.
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Posted by Michael A. Preller (+62) 14 years ago
Amorette,
The point of my response is; We are all residents of this small community. We do not need to "stir it up" or only gossip about issues that involve everyone. I have been blessed with growing up in this community (fifth generation) and Serving in the US Navy (I retired in 1998) so I have been outside this community and seen a little of how things work in the larger communities and forgien countries. I don't pretend to know everything and certainly don't think that I am any better than someone else. I also don't think that everyone should agree with me, rather believe that I can choose to "Agree to disagree" and still get along with others. I chose to move back to Miles City in 1998 because I had enough of the "Big city life".

I try and help out in my community as much as possible in many areas. I volunteer for several organizations both inside and outside the City of Miles City. I shop locally (as much as possible), and do whatever possible I can to support this community.

My point is this, maybe its best for one to "get to know the community you are in and those in it" prior to throwing stones. Instead of lashing out at the County Commissioners (who are all citizens of the City of Miles City), maybe one should go and talk with them and find out why they are doing what they are doing. I have, and they are following State Laws along with compling with an auditors recommedations.

It is no secret that the City has had issues with finances and transfering funds from the Water department to apply to other departments (Documented in an aduit report)in the past. The County is not responsible to balance the cities budget and if you would go over and talk with the Commissioners instead of sitting at your computer dogging their actions, maybe you would be able to form a more balanced opinion of the situation.

Now I understand that my opinion is just that, my opinion and it's not worth the cost of a cup of coffee. However, I do believe that its my responsibility to educate myself prior to posting.
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supporter
Posted by Amorette Allison (+12212) 14 years ago
However, I do believe that its my responsibility to educate myself prior to posting.

You are implying I am NOT educated about the issue. Hmmm. I've read the letter from the County Commissioners you are referring to. Does that make me educated? (A PRIVATE AMBULANCE FIRM?!?!? Who are they kidding?) I have also seen the City budget in detail and read through it. Does that make me educated? I have heard both sides of the issue from people involved and feel that both sides have good points and bad points. Does that make me educated? Again, if you feel a certain time must be served before getting involved, at what point do I have enough "education" to get involved?

It's an excellent system for dismissing contrary opinions. Oh, if you had lived here I long as I have and knew as much as I know, you would agree me. Because you haven't lived here long enough and don't know enough, your opinion is invalid.

[This message has been edited by Amorette Allison (edited 12/17/2007).]
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Posted by Michael A. Preller (+62) 14 years ago
Again, opions are just that...opinions and no, I don't think you have to be born into a community to form your opinion.
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Posted by Mayor (+136) 14 years ago
As a citizen, you have every right to review public documents. The approved City Budget is fifty-one pages long so it's not practical to post it here. I've arranged for a copy to be delivered to the City Library reference section for your review, you can examine a copy at City Hall, or we can reproduce a copy for you here. I expect the County would offer you the same service.

What does the City want from the County?
1) Fire: To compensate the City on a direct cost basis for:
a. Non-structural Wildland Fire Protection in the County,
b. Suppression of all vehicle fires on public roadways wihin the County,
c. Haz-Mat Emergency Response within the County,
d. Emergency Response to structures owned by the County outside of the City Limits.
Annual Cost: Unknown. Depends upon severity of wildfire season, frequency and scope of vehicle accidents, haz-mat incidents, and structural fires at County buildings. Approved City Fire Department Budget, excluding Ambulance: $662,448.00

2) Ambulance: To compensate the City for 13% of the annual Ambulance budget.
a. Miles City Fire & Rescue currently responds to all EMS calls within County boundaries and maintains mutual aid agreements with outlying agencies.
b. Between 13-20% of ambulance calls from 2003-2007 originated outside of the city limits.
c. An estimated $200,000.00 of ambulance debt is uncollectable due to federal constraints on Medicare/Medicaid payments. Another $80,000.00 is typically written off as Bad Debt Loss. Total estimated losses: $280,000
d. The City budget currently staffs the Ambulance service with 5.5 full-time employees. Think about that. We field two ambulances with three EMS techs each. Now add shift rotation, sick leave, and vacation. The required number of FTEs is much higher than budgeted.
e. Last year, the County enjoyed 24/7 fire and ambulance service for approximately $68,805, or $189 per day.
Ambulance Budget: $801,137.00. Proposed County Share: $104,147.81. Net income to be distributed to Ambulance Capital Improvement Fund.

3) Animal Control: To compensate the City for 20% of Animal Control annual budget, adjusted for inflation.
a. MCPD provides patrol and response to the County to the boundaries of the Mosquito Abatement District and Animal Shelter service for same.
Animal Control Budget, adjusted for inflation: $78,326.38. Proposed County Share: $15,665.28

4) Central Dispatch: To compensate the City for 31% of staffing cost of Emergency Operations Center Dispatch.
a. Dispatch team sends out all law enforcement, fire, and ambulance alarms to appropriate agencies.
b. County provides office space in E.O.C.
c. City pays for office space with 69% of staffing cost.
Dispatch Budget: $234,452.75. Proposed County Share: $72,680.35

5) Parks: To compensate the City for 20% of annual parks budget.
a. City Parks provide outdoor meeting space, playing fields, and recreation facilities for all of the County.
Parks Budget: $310,286.00. Proposed County Share: $62,057.20

6) Library: To compensate the Library for 20% of annual budget.
a. 20% of cardholders at the Miles City Public Library live outside the city limits.
b. 23% of the library's circulation is delivered to County patrons.
c. The City contributed $264,000.00 (or 85%) to the Library Fund. Remainder contributions are made by the County, Friends of the Library, the Library Memorial Fund, and other sources of revenue.
Library Budget: $309,899.87. Proposed County Share: $61,979.97

7) Water Delivery: To compensate the City for unmetered flow at the Eastern Montana Fairgrounds, adjusted for inflation.
a. By previous agreement, the City agreed to deliver water to the fair without meterage at a lump sum of $2,487.00 per year.
County Cost: $2,487.00(1.0398)= $2,585.00

8) Wastewater Treatment: To compensate the City for daily maintenance at the County-owned Bullard St. sewer lift station, adjusted for inflation.
a. By previous agreement, the maintenance fee was established at $1,326.00.
County Cost: $1,326.00(1.0398) =$1,378.77

9) Planning & Community Development: To compensate the City on a direct cost basis for planning services delivered by the City planner at a rate of $48.00 per hour.
a. Services to the County include: Floodplain Administration, Pre-application Subdivision Consultation, Subdivision Review, Grant Administration for CTEP funding, Land Records Review, & Vacation Procedures for County streets, alleys, and roads.
County Cost: Unknown. Depends upon projects submitted and hours billed by planner.

10) Sand & Gravel: To compensate the City for estimated gravel hauled out of City pits by the County at a market rate of .65 per yard.
a. The County typically estimates usage at 2,000 cubic yards per year for road construction and maintenance.
County Cost: $1,300.00

Total Proposed County Shares & Costs, excluding unknown direct costs for Fire & Planning Services and direct contribution to the Library Fund: $493,915.22.

As you can see, the City's offer to settle at $204,181.00 in November of last year is generous by comparison. We'll hear any reciprocal demands from the County, as long as they're lawful requests.

"How will you enforce Resolution No. 3164 to terminate services to the County if you can't reach agreement?"

That's a decision for the City Council to approve and a matter of discussion for our town meeting in January. There are several lawful options to consider.

I hope the above outline will advance the discussion.
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Posted by Tony Ackerman (+187) 14 years ago
The feedback and opinions expressed in this forum on this subject
are both sought after and appreciated. Both the Mayor and I value
your input and opinions, City and County.

There have been very good points made in this discussion (thank you Eric and thank you Art) and very real concerns expressed as well (thank you J Scheuering, Tracie, Marshall, Michael). This affects us all and we (the City Council) are trying to find a solution. It has not been easy.

Michael, you've made a statement about County has to account for its' tax dollars. The City has to likewise. Both entities are required to submit a balanced budget to the State and both entities have. These budgets are based on a good faith estimate of projected revenues for the upcoming fiscal year. I know that you are aware of this, but it bears repeating for all to understand that when the actual revenues deviate significantly from projected revenues, fiduciary responsibility requires action be taken to address the issue.

Art is correct in that you expect your elected officials to deal with these types of issues, and to deal with them in a timely manner. Both City and County have tried hard to reach a resolution to this issue, but have been unable to do so. Proposals and counterproposals have been offered, none have been regarded as acceptable by the other party. Face to face negotiations have been difficult and trying, again producing no favorable result. As this issue is causing an unexpected drain on the City budget, we (the Mayor and the City Council) have a fiduciary responsibility to take action upon the issue. We also bear the responsibility of informing the public when such an issue comes to such a point as this one has.

We (the Mayor and the City Council) are exercising our fiduciary responsibility to the rate payers of Miles City by addressing the issue at hand. We too are following the legal recommendations of professionals. We too are in compliance with State Law. The correct means of public disclosure have been and continue to be followed. It was brought before the Finance Committee as a publicly notified agenda item where it was debated in public and a decision made. A resolution was drafted and brought before the City Council as a publicly notified agenda item, where it was again debated in public and a decision made. This decision was published
in the paper and there has been ensuing discussion about it. There is more information forthcoming and there will be a public town meeting in January for all to attend where we will provide yet more information. We encourage everyone to attend, to listen and to ask questions. We too do not want this to degenerate any further and we too want to get it resolved so we can deal with the other issues facing our community (and there are many, both good (consideration for the State PEER Data Center, public meeting to be held on January 9th) and not so good, (the water rate increase)).

There are good people on both sides of this issue. We all (City and County) are trying to do what we perceive to be the right thing for the constituents we represent. At this point however our positions have led us to a situation that we have not been able to resolve. What we (the Mayor and the City Council) are doing that may be a bit different than in times past is that while we continue to work at this issue, we are letting those same constituents know more publicly and via different forums that we have a real and difficult issue at hand that, if not resolved, will have a real and significant impact on the community at large.

Please, realize that we are NOT trying to "stir up divisions within our community". We are trying to be the responsible stewards that you have elected/appointed us to be.

We live here too.

Tony Ackerman
Councilman, Ward 3
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Posted by Deadeye (+32) 14 years ago
Mayor Joe, Tony;

Thank you for your very well articulated, logical, rational points. You have expressed the position of the city in a very reasonable way.

However, in the spirit of what is MC.com, let's forget rational, well articulated, and logical discussions and get back to what is more exciting.

How come you guys can't do it 'the way it's always been done?'
Tony, are you from 'round here? Where do you get off talking like you know what's going on? Where's Butch when you need him.....

:P


(disclaimer((for certain 'established' MC residents)) this posting is SARCASM, not to be taken seriously. As in a Joke, not too be construde as true suggestions/comments)
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Posted by Tony Ackerman (+187) 14 years ago
"However, in the spirit of what is MC.com, let's forget rational, well articulated, and logical discussions and get back to what is more exciting.

How come you guys can't do it 'the way it's always been done?'
Tony, are you from 'round here? Where do you get off talking like you know what's going on? Where's Butch when you need him.....

:P


(disclaimer((for certain 'established' MC residents)) this posting is SARCASM, not to be taken seriously. As in a Joke, not too be construde as true suggestions/comments)"

In the spirit of the disclaimer...

>How come you guys can't do it 'the way it's always been done?'

Been burnt too many times in my previous life as a roughneck, lumbermill worker, welder, software engineer (take your pick), would rather make it work the right way for a change...

>Tony, are you from 'round here?

Depends on what you mean for 'round here. Born and raised on the side of the state where the water flows the wrong way, but been out here in God's country for a about 4 years now (prodigal son returns from left coast of WA state). My Dad hails from Peerless originally, still have relatives 'up north'. Had a cousin who lived and taught here in town for awhile. Played on the Belgrade football team that beat Sacred Heart for the State B title back in the 70's (yeah, yeah, yeah, I'm older than dirt, I know).

>Where do you get off talking like you know what's going on?

I try to do diligence in my efforts as Councilman. See first comment about being burnt. I spend a lot of time in the background working for the betterment of the community and trying to find solutions. This is my home too, and I'm able to do things here that I had only dreamt of doing in my previous life. (Dave Schott, it really is better out here. And you can recover your humanity, you don't have to remaind a member of the collective forever ...though I have to admit I do miss Anthony's Seaport and the Hunt Club).

>Where's Butch when you need him.....

Butch is still around, and he has his input to offer too.


There. Now you know more about me that you probably ever wanted...

(This post was submitted by a fictional character who doesn't really exist)
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Posted by Eric Brandt (+842) 14 years ago
Yes, I actually counted the parenthesis... :P
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Posted by Mayor (+136) 14 years ago
The Miles City Star reported last night that the Custer County Commissioners will be meeting with the City Council at noon today and on the 19th, 20th, 26th, & 27th of December. These dates were selected unilaterally by the Commissioners and not published in the newspaper until last night.

Montana Public Participation law (2-3-103, M.C.A.) requires that adequate public notice be published for all public meetings. Custer County's own Rules of Procedure for the Commission (Sec. 3.02) requires that public notice be posted "no later than 48 hours prior to the scheduled meeting".

So, if you were planning to attend the meeting at noon today please be advised that neither myself nor the City Council will be present to maintain compliance with Open Meeting and Public Participation statutes. Doing so would run the risk that any decisions made would be nullified and/or the meeting would be ruled illegal. We've been that route before.

The City will be in attendance during the Commissioners meeting tomorrow, Wednesday, the 19th, at noon.
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moderator
founder
Posted by David Schott (+17910) 14 years ago
>>(Dave Schott, it really is better out here. And you can recover your humanity, you don't have to remain a member of the collective forever ...though I have to admit I do miss Anthony's Seaport and the Hunt Club)<<

Hey Tony, after 15 years and several days at Microsoft I left the company in September of 2005 -- so in that respect I am no longer a member of the collective.

It was from reading about you and your qualifications for the City Council position in the Miles City Star that I discovered you were a former Microsoft employee. I don't think our paths ever crossed at MS...? I spent much of my time in the MS-DOS, Windows 9x, and then Windows CE operating systems groups (buildings 4, 27, and 118 mostly).

I have lived in Redmond for a little over 17 years now which is almost as long as I lived in Miles City.

No doubt, I would definitely miss some of the good restaurants in the Seattle area if I moved back to Miles City. I find it interesting that the Hunt Club is one of the places you think of. I've never been but the Hunt Club is certainly of interest to me. During WWII my dad lived in the Seattle area and at that time he shared an apartment with his sisters in the Sorrento Hotel. Going to the Hunt Club sometime would give me a chance to have a closer look at the Sorrento Hotel. (I'm sure the Sorrento was not nearly the swank hotel that it is today when my dad lived there.)

Cheers,

- Dave
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Posted by Jeff Newby (+149) 14 years ago
Damn I cant believe the nice and quiet little town I grew up in is falling down to the big city like politics.
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supporter
Posted by MRH (+1527) 14 years ago
Hi Mayor Joe,

Hey lets not get too excited. My copy of the MC Star, indicates you will be meeting with the County Commisioners on Wednesday and Thursday from noon to 1:00 pm. I think the general reference,without times in the first paragraph, was a 'misprint'. I noticed the time and date because I may attend if these meetings are open to the public.

Marshall Haferkamp
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Posted by Michael A. Preller (+62) 14 years ago
Marshall,

I was at the Courthouse today expecting that the meeting between the City of Miles City and the Custer County Commissioners would happen. I believed that because Mr. Whalen steadfastly states his deep concern for the public welfare of the citizens of Miles City. However the "Evil Commissioners" were waiting for the city representitives, but to no avail. Apparently the Mayor felt that after reading the M.C.A. he had no choice but to call the Miles City Star and cancell today's meeting (per M.C. Star) by citing M.C.A. 2-3-103 however, If he had read a little more he would have found that M.C.A. 2-3-112 talks about exemptions (please look at it, it's on the State of Montana website). Anyhow, it states that an exemption to public notice for issues concerning public safety are allowed. Not being as educated as most the posters on this site apparently are, I understand that Fire, Ambulance and 911 Dispatch Centers probably fall under the scope referenced.

This whole drama show is actually very entertaining. I got my money on the Commissioners, they seem a little bit more prepared and so far show me that they really want to fix this issue not just talk the talk.
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Posted by Toni Lee Rentschler (+218) 14 years ago
I also have just a few questions to throw out there. I am just like the other here in the group that aren't the knowledgeable about certain things. But please help with these few queations. Thank you

What about Bucking Horse Sale? They are not City or County people. Will we stop all tourists to our City?
Custer County D. High School in City limits?
Kicher and Kiney school. They are both out of city, but only County. Will you tell who goes where?
Farmers Market, that is County people in City limits. Like at the park.
MCC, County college in City limits. But what about all the out of country people? Will we limit them too? If we stop county what is stopping them?
If the City people are paying 75%, what really matters about the 25%. We are a City shouldn't it be non-profit.. Just making it even? The whole USA is negative (budget) does it matter if there is a little negative here?
Water and Sewer systems, does that mean you will cut off water and treatment to those just out side of city (also including some County people), like Michaels Addition, South Gate and Aie Addition. Does that mean they will all have to have their own water treatment and sewer plants?
City Dump, that is out in the County?

[This message has been edited by Toni Lee Rentschler (edited 12/18/2007).]
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Posted by Deadeye (+32) 14 years ago
The sky is falling!!!!!
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Posted by JOE WHALEN (+622) 14 years ago
Right you are, Marshall. The Star corrected the schedule before going to press. I apologize to the list and stand corrected.

Mr. Preller: I'm happy to be the one who's made your spirits bright. You've provided me with some holiday cheer as well, particularly with your insistence that I "resort to telling the whole story" as well as your warm reception to newcomers to the City, er, "proud County".

I've been invited to feel as welcome here as anywhere I've lived. However, there's still a very small and increasingly powerless circle of old school natives who'll welcome a newcomer as long as he's perceived to be a good ol' boy who supports all business development at all costs and turns a blind eye to backroom corruption. I'm not made that way, Mike.

I want to assure you that I plan to tell the whole story as you've suggested, unless the Star beats me to it (and I hope they do).

The working title of my story is "An Unsanitary Condition". The setting is the Custer County Courthouse from May 1st, 2007 through the present, and its footnotes are all a matter of public record. It features a cast of characters that include: Custer County Sanitarian Jim Zabrocki, Commissioner Gary Matthews, Midwest Fire Suppression, Michael A. Preller, the Custer County Rural Volunteer Fire Dept., Victory Insurance, the Montana Codes Annotated, and, perhaps, the County Attorney (hey, every story needs a hero). I'm still working out the ending.

Anyway, I know you're anxious so I'll get right on it. But I want it to be clear that it was Michael A. Preller who insisted that I tell the whole story.
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Posted by Michael A. Preller (+62) 14 years ago
Hey Joey while your at it, how about trying to tell the whole story (as only you can) about the Parks users agreement (that you did not insert a clause about metal bats use in city parks only to recant after a little pressure, then you decieded that maybe you did).

Hey how about the Human rights issue concerning discrimination to the players, families of a certain baseball group. No Joe, I haven't forgotten that fiasco. It's amazing how you paint yourself as if your some sort of grand Savior. Your little twisted tales are getting old, and your web is getting very tangled.

If you want to get personal, bring it on, however try to get your story correct first before you begin your crusade to save the citizens from "The Old Timers from Eastern Montana" please that is so lame. Just so you know Joey, I'm not in any position of power and I don't have money, I'm just a simple man who believes everyone deserves a fair shake in life. I also tire of those who feel they can intimidate me with position or self righteous attitudes.

I don't have all the answeres and neither do you Joey.

While I am ranting, It gets old listening to a grown man threating people about what he is going to do and if they don't play to his preconcieved rules, then by gosh he is going to tell his mommy and take his ball and go home. It's a cold cruel world Joey, you don't always get your way and there are others who may not agree with you. Maybe you might try to learn the art of diplomacy.
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Posted by Deadeye (+32) 14 years ago
Hey Joe (Insert Guitar Rift)

Just wanted to let you know I think your doing a great job. Most of Miles City and Custer County has a great appreciation for the professionalism you display in your position as Mayor.

While there are certainly always disagreements that arrise due to uncontrollable circumstances, I feel you have always done a very good job of making sure everyone's interest are kept in mind.

Please keep up the good work.

Just my two cents, from an anonymous poster.
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supporter
Posted by ike eichler (+1224) 14 years ago
Mr. Mayor Sir, I must correct you in the statement you made in this post, namely, "However there is still a very small and increasingly powerless circle of old school natives who'll welcome a newcomer as long as he is perceived to be a good Ol' boy who supports all business development at all costs and turns a blind eye to backroom corruption." I am surprised that upon your first day in town someone did not make you aware that here is a nice small town but most any economic development has been blocked by the old established "Cowboy Culture" that has kept Miles City as an Old Cowtown instead of being the Billings of eastern Montana. Now as to backroom corruption???? Ike
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supporter
Posted by Van (+567) 14 years ago
Mikey said, "I find it a bit humorous when I read your replies. Maybe you should resort to telling the whole story, not just the part you want to let the public see."

Mikey also said, "Hey Joey while you're at it, how about trying to tell the whole story (as only you can) about the Parks users agreement (that you did not insert a clause about metal bats use in city parks only to recant after a little pressure, then you decided that maybe you did)."

The TRUTH comes out Mikey is mad at Joey because he supported wooden bats and Mikey did not like it. Mikey is also a Rural Fireman and doesn't play nice with big fireman. So Mikey uses his job to fine the City for Safety violations because Joey wouldn't pick him for dodge ball. It is ironic that Mikey shows up on the City job site the day after he and Joey have words on mc.com?

The Truth has revealed itself again. Miles City is full of whiners.
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Posted by Michael A. Preller (+62) 14 years ago
Van,
I'll address your postbecause I don't have anything to hide.

1. Yes both my sons played on the Outlaws Baseball teams. The issue I had was that The City would not let the teams have equal access to the fields because they used aluminum. However, the Softball association leagues did also use aluminum and were allowed use the fields. The Mayor, if he so desires can address the issue about the ever changing park users agreement.

2. Yes I am on the CCRVFC (Rural Fire) and have been for 10 years. I receive no pay, it's a 100% volunteer department. I have no problem working with Miles City Fire and neither do any of our people. We have worked very well together over the last 3-5 years. Yes there were issues in the past, however after talking with each other those issues were resolved. I feel the MCFD does a fine job, has a very good staff and is very profesional. Also, we work well together (several calls over the last few years).

3. Now about my Job. Van, I am a Safety Professional that has a job to perform, sometimes because I take it very seriously those who do not feel that safety is important, or the lives of their employees are important they take offense to being inspected.

I do not target people, nor do I use my job as a tool for revenge. As far as inspecting the City, yes I did inspect a trenching operation in progress on the 17th (Monday) at the intersection of Gordon & North Cottage. I did not perform the inspectioon to "get back at the Mayor" as you implied. I did not issue fines as you implied either, as the State Safety & Health Bureau does not issue fines. The employees were at risk in an open trench. If you have been reading the news lately, you would know that a couple weeks ago, a man in Bigfork was buried in a trench and is still in the hospital in a coma..., so yes I made sure that the trench operation was taken care of before I left the site. To me a persons life is worth more that someones misguided opinion.

I believe that it is my moral obligation to look out for all the people I serve, thats called pride and professionalism.

If you have any other questions or anything else you would like to discuss, please feel free to ask. Please try and get the facts correct before you spread gossip.
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Posted by LG (+194) 14 years ago
Kudos Mike. I can tell you're not a politician, as you actually addressed the questions directed at you.

You could have just pointed at a privacy act protected state organization to deflect commentary against you. Or circled the entire issue with well-rounded double talk. It takes guts to tell the truth, and by the God of the Fundamentalists, you've got them.
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Posted by Tracie Fox (+20) 14 years ago
Sorry to interupt the current discussion that would probably be better suited under a different topic, but I had a question based upon this issue.
I keep seeing the term "good faith estimate", Tony expressed it as being "of projected revenues". So my question is, is the good faith estimate based around the projected costs/revenues of county and city issues, or as I may have understood it before a situation that implies, "I'll get this one, you get the next?" By saying that I am referring to articles on milescitystar.com that discussed the different costs that both county (i.e. county health dept.) and the city (i.e. ambulance service) incurr and then hopefully they are roughly the same amount. So in the end it will even out? That is how I interpretted the article in the paper, and I may be incorrect. So I just wanted a little clarification.

Also I asked a question earlier in the thread referring to emergency situations that would occur outside city limits. I would still like to find out if the ambulance service were to be discontinued to the county (anything outside city limits) then who would take responsibility of responding to those situations? Would the county establish a volunteer program? Are the highways covered by the city or county, in an emergency situation? What about the interstate?

These are some very real questions that I think are important to have addressed.

Only 6 more days till Christmas! I hope it is merry for all!
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Posted by Tracie Fox (+20) 14 years ago
Mike, I did not mean to offend and did not mean to imply that your comments did not belong here. I think you are doing a great job! And I too, appreciate the honesty and the importance of putting people first. Tracie Fox

[This message has been edited by Tracie Fox (edited 12/18/2007).]
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Posted by Michael A. Preller (+62) 14 years ago
LG,

Thank you. I must say that when I use this forum, it is as a private citizen. I am not expressing the State of Montana view points. If anyone has a concern or question concerning my job as a Safety Professional with the Montana Occupational Safety & Health Bureau, please feel free to contact me at my office (406) 232-8342 or on my cell at (406) 698-5584 or my email is [email protected] I will assist you the best I can.

My job is as a public servant, which means I am here to assist you. Yes, I'm am with the govenrment and here to help.

Again, I don't have all the answeres, however I will do everything possible to help someone get the answeres they are looking for.

Michael
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Posted by Mrae2 (+95) 14 years ago
Mr. Mayor -
What does any of this have to do with Victory Insurance?
We would like to extend an inivitation to you to visit our office in order to learn about our company, our business, and share in our vision for the future of eastern Montana and Miles City. Please give us a call or stop by!
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Posted by Jeff Newby (+149) 14 years ago
I guess this topic shoots the CHRISTMAS TRUCE to crap doesnt it.
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Posted by Dan (+461) 14 years ago
So this is what I think I know up to now from reading the paper and this forum:
1) Fire-
The Co. would like to opt out of their agreement with City Fire. I would imagine that is their right, as long as they have met the previous contracts stipulations. Am I also correct to assume that Co. residents can opt to contract for fire suppression with the City if they choose? The Co. has elected to put the Sanitarian in charge of fire suppression and they would like to contract with the CCRVFD for suppression. Am I correct in assuming that the Co. and CCRVFD have mutual aid aggreements with state and federal fire agencies? The cost of this is impossible to determine as it chages every year.
2)Ambulance-
According to figures given on this forum, between 13-20% of all EMS calls went outside city limits. As a result the city is asking the Co. to pay 13% of the budget. That to me seems reasonable?
3) Animal control-
The city is asking the Co. to pay 20% of the animal control budget. I cannot determine how they figure the Co. owes that specific amount?
4) Dispatch-
The Co. states they are responsible for 12-15% of costs here yet they are contributing 25-37% of the budget. The city is asking for 31%. Sounds to me like the two sides need to get there heads together on this one and figure out the percentages.
5) Library-
The Co. would also like to remove this from the interlocal agreement. Again, I would guess this is their right, as long as they have fulfilled their prior committments. Figures given on this forum state that 20% of the cardholders and 23% of the circulation goes to Co. residents. Seems resonable to me then that the library would ask somewhere between 20-23% from the Co., irregardless of if the agreement is with the Interlocal or the Co. itself.
6)Water-
Water at the fairgrounds is provided to the Co. at no charge. I guess this is another area where the two sides need to get together and decide; no charge, reduced rate, market value??
This is definately one of those grey areas because the fairgrounds benefits city and co. and provides revenue.
7) Wastewater Treatment Plant-
How can the city determine what the Co. share of this bill is? My idea would be anyone outside of city limits but on city water would pay the same as residents of the city? If you are not in the city limits and not on city water I dont feel you should share this cost?
9) Planning and Community Development-
Another area where everyone benefits from this service. An hourly rate is established. I feel the city and Co. should share this bill evenly.
10) Sand & Gravel-
Another tough area. City residents certainly benefit from having well maintained roads. Again, I think the two sides need to get togehter and decide reduced rate, market value or free.
11) Administrative Fees-
I agree with the Co. that they shouldn't be charge administrative fees. On a personal level I disagree with those fees as well. For example - if Planning and Community Development costs $48 per hour than that rate should include administrative fees. If it doesnt than maybe it needs to go up alittle to cover it, dont tack it on seperately.
12) Parks-
We all use them or benefit from them in one way or another. Even if you never set foot in one a tourist may stop in one and on the way out of town buy gas at your store or groceries where you work. Any and all of which puts money into our local economy which helps everyone here, no matter city or Co. The Co. needs to help subsidize the parks but I dont have any good ideas how??
Again, this is all just what I think I know about the situation from reading the paper and this forum, I could be way off base on some issues here and would love to hear if I am so I can be sure to have my facts straight. Too much of this discussion has turned into a "he said, she said" type of argument. Unfortunatley peoples feelings hamper the process of doing what is best and right for the whole. We all live here and utilize both city and county resources...
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Posted by Roxanna Brush (+123) 14 years ago
Just a question:
How long would Miles City/Custer County have to wait for a Hazmat Team to arrive for a spill?

I believe that our City fire department has an agreement with a team in Billings so the answer is 4-5 hours.

All of Western Industries, Railcar, and Sanjel employees are Hazmat trained. Not to mention our Hazmat Trailer that has seen no use. It is sure a shame that Miles City can not get along with local citizens. We could have taken the opportunity to have our own Hazmat Team that could respond within the hour.

I tried to talk to Rogers about this and he skirted the issue as that is who we have a contract with. Maybe he should have said, "We don't know who is on the Team in Billings, but they must be better than local people because we don't know them!! Or how about, " They are from a bigger city so they must be better."

I beleive that somewhere along the line we lost respect for our neighbors, in town and out. I hope that we do combine the city and county governments. I am afraid if we do not we could become a ghost town. Someday a truck will be stuck in the underpass and we will be out of town. The city will have to wait 4-5 hours for a wrecker out of Billings.

Don't you think that a city or town should be as self sufficient as possible?

One thing that Miles City will not tollerate is when a call comes in that children are trapped in a burning building, it should not matter if the building is in the city or the county. We as human beings could care less. Just do everything you can to save them.
The ambulance should be subsidized from the hospital as they are the only ones that benefit. True they do not get paid by all of the patients but they are non-profit.

We really need to work on getting along. Unfortunatly, that usually takes a tragedy.
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Posted by Eric Brandt (+842) 14 years ago
"One thing that Miles City will not tollerate is when a call comes in that children are trapped in a burning building, it should not matter if the building is in the city or the county."

Where exactly did that come from? I don't remember anything of that sort in the recent discussions...

-------------------------------------

Back to the topic...

One thing that I have not seen in the paper are the comments regarding what the City owes the County.

The County used as their first "Concern" the fact that the county operates the health board. They made it clear that they will not be withholding services from the City at this time.

The comment was: "What percentage of CITY RESIDENTS living OUTSIDE THE COUNTY are using that resource?"

Why is that a logical question, you might ask? Well, it is easy to determine that if 20% of the Library resources are consumed by COUNTY RESIDENTS living OUTSIDE THE CITY, that the County should in turn compensate 20% of that budget. Seems logical to all but the most inept mathematicians.

So the county displays this ridiculous figure of $850,000 budget that those poooooooooor county residents have to fund all by themselves with no compensation from the City.

This is nothing but a smoke and mirrors attempt to distract us, the public, (me and you) from the real issues at hand - namely that we spent a year an a half of bickering to find out that the County does not, after all, want $2,000 in GRAVEL !!! What a waste of time. That could have been brought up any time in the last 18 months. Why now?

Sorry, I was rambling to emulate the new skills I learned at a meeting the other day where I discovered you can completely confuse and disguise an issue by skirting around it with doomsday scenarios on other topics .... I digress.

Back to the question: "What percentage of CITY RESIDENT living OUTSIDE THE COUNTY are using the Health Board services?"

Take that percentage, multiply by the budget, and voila - no fancy math here - that's what the City owes the County for "Services Rendered".

Ok, So I did a little research on this subject, and I was actually able to find THAT percentage. WHAT IS IT - DON'T KEEP US IN SUSPENSE!!!

Ok, Ok... It is, precisely, 0.00000000000000000% Or, 0x10^42%

So, for those who failed the third grade 14 times over, that works out to exactly $ZERO.ZERO

MOVE ON TO REAL ISSUES! That's right, 100% of the CITY PEOPLE are ALREADY PAYING FOR ~80% OF THAT RESOURCE!

I actually cannot believe this is a contentious point, unless it was specifically designed to confuse people. I actually expected better from the Commissioners on that one ,and you should too.

Now, I'm not saying that the commissioners don't have some valid points, but I'll save that for a later post.
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supporter
Posted by Rick Kuchynka (+4461) 14 years ago
Joe, one thing I've often been told when I'm discussing contentious issues with people is that I'm too negative. And they're right, in that I tend to only speak to my side of the argument, and usually fail to concede any points of agreement, even though there really are agreeable points. I think it's because in my mind, I think people will assume that I agree with them on points just because I don't object. In reality, (as I've been told repeatedly) it doesn't work that way.

So my suggestion would be to start with what you can agree on, and make sure to vocalize those points whenever you start to discuss. Otherwise you may come across as just being negative (or one-sided).

Outside of that, I wouldn't mind a couple points of clarification. One, on the ambulance budget, I'm not sure why the county is being asked to pay 13% of the overall budget ($800k) rather than 13% of the city's loss ($280k) on the ambulance. It seems like as an enterprise fund, the sharing of losses should be based on the actual losses, not gross expenditures. If the city loses $280k on the ambulance, it seems to me like the city is asking the county to cover nearly 40% of that loss. That doesn't seem like a fair mix based on volumes.

And the other point is that from what was said in the paper, there may be a legal requirement that the city provide health services that the county is currently providing. I have no idea if that's actually the law or not, but it was said to be. Is that a fair assessment? I really don't know either way, but it seems like only the county people are talking about this, so I'd like to hear the other side.

[This message has been edited by Rick Kuchynka (edited 12/22/2007).]
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Posted by Tony Ackerman (+187) 14 years ago
Well folks, after two meetings, we have verbal commitment to some of the issues and apparent forward progress. Nothing is cast in stone at this point, but the last meeting was much more productive than the first.

The most important work achieved:
First and foremost, the County's financial share to keep Central Dispatch in full operation has been verbally committed.

The other points that appear as forward progress I'm not prepared to discuss quite yet, soon though.

I will ask that we try to keep the discussion on topic so we can focus on finding solutions and convey information pertinent. Please, let's try to keep distractive posts out of this discussion.

I'll attempt to answer some of the other points that have been brought up in this discussion.

Tracie Fox asks
"...is the good faith estimate based around the projected costs/revenues of county and city issues, or as I may have understood it before a situation that implies, "I'll get this one, you get the next?"

In short, the first half of your question answers the question, projected costs/revenues of county and city issues based on budgets submitted by the respective department heads to the City Council / County Commission.

"By saying that I am referring to articles on milescitystar.com that discussed the different costs that both county (i.e. county health dept.) and the city (i.e. ambulance service) incurr and then hopefully they are roughly the same amount. So in the end it will even out?"

From a "common sense" point of view, you would expect that both sides could present a list of services provided to the other with the valuation attached to each service and from that list we could find common ground. To some extent this is the point that Dan and Eric have made also. At this time, the negotiations need to center around the amount owed to the City for services already rendered in good faith. Moving forward the discussion should evolve into determining a) what services can be/are to be rendered b) if those services are desired c) the cost of those services.

Dan makes the following points and asks the following questions:
(Some of these points I will comment on where I can provide informed answers).

1) Fire-
The Co. would like to opt out of their agreement with City Fire. I would imagine that is their right, as long as they have met the previous contracts stipulations. Am I also correct to assume that Co. residents can opt to contract for fire suppression with the City if they choose? The Co. has elected to put the Sanitarian in charge of fire suppression and they would like to contract with the CCRVFD for suppression. Am I correct in assuming that the Co. and CCRVFD have mutual aid aggreements with state and federal fire agencies? The cost of this is impossible to determine as it chages every year.

It is the County's right to do so if they wish Dan. I will defer answering the question on contracting for fire suppression with MCF&R until I can confer with Chief Rodgers and Mayor. I want to provide a factual, truthful answer and not step into speculating on this. It's too important. I can't answer the rest of the questions as I don't have definitive knowledge in this area and would suggest you ask the County Commissioners and the County Sanitarian. I'm not being evasive, I will only speak to what I know.

2)Ambulance-
According to figures given on this forum, between 13-20% of all EMS calls went outside city limits. As a result the city is asking the Co. to pay 13% of the budget. That to me seems reasonable?

I will defer discussion on this point until a later post after I better understand the Commissioners concerns. Eric has provided a relevant discussion on this subject.

3) Animal control-
The city is asking the Co. to pay 20% of the animal control budget. I cannot determine how they figure the Co. owes that specific amount?

Part of the area that animal control is responsible for is outside of the city limits as defined by the mosquito abatement district. There is a proportionate cost of running the animal shelter that is included in this figure.

4) Dispatch-
The Co. states they are responsible for 12-15% of costs here yet they are contributing 25-37% of the budget. The city is asking for 31%. Sounds to me like the two sides need to get there heads together on this one and figure out the percentages.

Central Dispatch was created as a joint effort by County and City. The 12-15% figure is the figure for last year of the number of calls dispatched to the Sheriff's office. There is more value offered to all of the law enforcement agencies by having one central point of Dispatch than just the number of call serviced by each respective agency. There are efficiencies gained for all by having a common center for records management and information retrieval that is shared by all of the law enforcement. There is also an implicit value to having the dispatchers monitoring the video surveillance system of the jail, and providing a "life-line" to the jailers when they enter the cell blocks.

5) Library-
The Co. would also like to remove this from the interlocal agreement. Again, I would guess this is their right, as long as they have fulfilled their prior committments. Figures given on this forum state that 20% of the cardholders and 23% of the circulation goes to Co. residents. Seems resonable to me then that the library would ask somewhere between 20-23% from the Co., irregardless of if the agreement is with the Interlocal or the Co. itself.

I want to further study what was offered in the first meeting before I comment on this area. This too is an area where I'm spending more time to more completely understand the whole issue and the ramifications of what was offered.

6)Water-
Water at the fairgrounds is provided to the Co. at no charge. I guess this is another area where the two sides need to get together and decide; no charge, reduced rate, market value??
This is definately one of those grey areas because the fairgrounds benefits city and co. and provides revenue.

7) Wastewater Treatment Plant-
How can the city determine what the Co. share of this bill is? My idea would be anyone outside of city limits but on city water would pay the same as residents of the city? If you are not in the city limits and not on city water I dont feel you should share this cost?

10) Sand & Gravel-
(taken out of order)
Another tough area. City residents certainly benefit from having well maintained roads. Again, I think the two sides need to get togehter and decide reduced rate, market value or free.

Two points here.
First, the amounts that are being discussed in these three points (Fairgrounds water delivery, Wastewater Treatment monitoring of the Bullard Street lift station and gravel from the gravel pit) are not extraordinary and do not account for the bulk of the monies owed.

Second, the County did NOT own a gravel crusher when this agreement was initially drawn up. The amount owed here will be determined by how much (if any) gravel was removed.

9) Planning and Community Development-
Another area where everyone benefits from this service. An hourly rate is established. I feel the city and Co. should share this bill evenly.

I'll defer discussion on this until later for the same reasons mentioned previously.

11) Administrative Fees-
I agree with the Co. that they shouldn't be charge administrative fees. On a personal level I disagree with those fees as well. For example - if Planning and Community Development costs $48 per hour than that rate should include administrative fees. If it doesnt than maybe it needs to go up alittle to cover it, dont tack it on seperately.

The auditors were insistent that this be done. This is a matter of clarification and understanding what these fees are and why they exist. It's not appropriate to bury these costs in the rate charged as it does not give a true
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Posted by Eric Brandt (+842) 14 years ago
"How long would Miles City/Custer County have to wait for a Hazmat Team to arrive for a spill? "

A few hours. Who cares - if the Rescue Department has done their jobs correctly, we won't be here to worry about it. The purpose of the Rescue operation is not to clean up the spill, it is to ensure residents are removed to safety.

-------------------------

"I believe that our City fire department has an agreement with a team in Billings so the answer is 4-5 hours."

This is a pseudo-correct statement. The closest hazmat trailer is in Billings. The Billings Fire Department is trained and maintains the EXPENSIVE continuing education to maintain qualification as Hazmat Technicians.

------------------------

"All of Western Industries, Railcar, and Sanjel employees are Hazmat trained."

There is a HUGE difference between a hazmat driver / handler / operator and a technician. You actually have to be certified for certain hazmat cleanup operations, and that is a very expensive certification to maintain.

------------------------

"Not to mention our Hazmat Trailer that has seen no use."

What hazmat trailer? The State deployed several of the "trailers". They are expensive to maintain. The equipment and sensors have to certified regularly - monthly in some cases. The materials have a shelf-life. The technicians are expensive. The state was planning on putting one of these here, but the community decided they didn't want it here due to the expense.

-----------------------------------------

"It is sure a shame that Miles City can not get along with local citizens. We could have taken the opportunity to have our own Hazmat Team that could respond within the hour."

It is indeed a shame - perhaps you could start by doing a little research before spreading untrue information. Why do we need to respond to a hazmat spill in less than an hour?

I would encourage you to participate in training and programs that will teach you about how incident response works. CERT is always looking for volunteers, and would be a great place to start.

"I tried to talk to Rogers about this and he skirted the issue as that is who we have a contract with. Maybe he should have said, "We don't know who is on the Team in Billings, but they must be better than local people because we don't know them!! Or how about, " They are from a bigger city so they must be better." "

Well, that was constructive and very unbiased as well!

How specifically did he "skirt" the issue? Actually, not only does he actually know who they are, but their number is on the list. I take offense to your attacking the Chief without foundation, and I'm not inclined to be nice about it. If you're not able to collect factual information and share that data with us in a congruent and consistent format, then I would prefer not to hear it. It would be one thing if he actually said those things, but to create fictitious scenarios from a hap-hazard 30-second encounter in a hallway on the way to a disaster briefing - is quite another thing all together.

------------------------

"Don't you think that a city or town should be as self sufficient as possible? "

Nope - I sure don't. It needs to be REASONABLE and AFFORDABLE. It's a difficult line, and not always straight. It needs to be reevaluated and adjusted on a constant basis. If that level of preparedness will raise your taxes another 200,000 a year - would you still think that way?

-----------------------

"One thing that Miles City will not tollerate is when a call comes in that children are trapped in a burning building, it should not matter if the building is in the city or the county. We as human beings could care less. Just do everything you can to save them. "

You've not been trained in Rescue, have you? Your catastrophe is NOT my problem, and I will NOT do everything I can to save you. I will take reasonable measures to save you, but in the end - I, or someone else, might make the decision to let you die.

I have a REALLY BIG issue with your statement here. First of all, it is clearly referencing an incident which occurred several years ago. What you obviously don't know - are a lot of facts.

Namely:
Those unfortunate victims were deceased before the call was made to 911.

A Miles City Firefighter actually DID enter that house and try to save those victims. It was a very unwise thing to do. It was an emotional decision that was made contrary to training and command. That rescuer very nearly became a victim himself, and will have permanent injury as a result. Rather that attempt to discredit that department, maybe you should thank them that no one else died too.

At the time, there was no "Mutual Aid" agreement like the one in place now. Had the City entered that structure and resulted in serious injury or death, then we would STILL be paying those lawsuits and claims today. It is a very complicated arrangement - but at the end of the day, liability must be evaluated along with risk. Sometimes, you just cannot attempt the rescue - and until you have been in a position to decide people's lives, you should probably have more respect for the real, honest and heartfelt individuals that have to make those decisions every day.

Finally, partially as a result of that incident, we now have a mutual aid agreement that covers that type of situation.

---> A little bit of research might have stopped you from embarrassing yourself with this nasty attempt to spread hate and discontent about an already past and very sad event.

--------------------------------

Back to the topic , for my Next post - Why the Commissioners have valid concerns about the City's agreement...

[This message has been edited by Eric Brandt (edited 12/23/2007).]
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supporter
Posted by Buck Showalter (+4459) 14 years ago
Are we worried about a gigantic meth lab explosion or something?
Hazmat teams?
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Posted by Tony Ackerman (+187) 14 years ago
Buck,

It's a matter of being prepared. The biggest concern in this area is the possibility of a tank car of noxious material derailing and dumping it's contents. There are other potential concerns that we should be prepared for, tanker trucks of fuel, oil field chemicals, waste chemicals and materials. All of these materials require treatment and handling as hazardous material.

Tony
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Posted by Eric Brandt (+842) 14 years ago
As promised, Why I support the Commissioner's viewpoints:

One of the very good points brought on by the Commissioners is in regards to interlocal agreement being aggregate rather than several separate contracts.

I think they raise a valid concern that this gives the City too much power. Since the agreement must be accepted in it's entirety, it makes it a harder bargaining tool for the City than it does the County. This is a similar issue to "earmarks" in the national legislature. "I have to accept these parts I don't like because they're stuck to these parts I need."

There are pros and cons to having separate contracts for each item. There are pros and cons for having it all lumped together.

Considering how little work is required to have a dozen small resolutions as compared to 18 moths of bickering - perhaps splitting things up would be a great step in the forward direction.

---------------------------------------------------

Ambulance fees:
As I mentioned before, this is a very ugly situation. While everyone is very quick to attack that department, they should instead go over and learn what really goes on there. The financial side of it is WAY more complicated than any other single entity in the City in my opinion. There are numerous agencies, multiple departments and several outside organizations happening over there under one umbrella. To complicate matters even more, there are laws and rules outside Miles City that govern what, how and how much.

It literally takes months to compile that budget alone. Then, when it's all calculated out, the Mayor and Council have to make it fit in every where else. To make matters worse - they actually pick and choose how it will be "divided" so that it "looks good" to the public. So the numbers in the Final Budget (and this actually holds true for all departments) are not necessarily the numbers the department heads passed on.

When it doesn't balance at the end of the year, we pass "Budget Amendments" to fix it. This is a NORMAL procedure on the surface, but I think that some of these amendments could be avoided with truthful budgeting - even if that truth would "disturb people".

Alas, we have been slowly "fixing" the HUGE error made several years ago regarding this issue. My hope is that the Commissioners will look beyond these past issues and evaluate that budget realistically.

---------------------------------

Wildland Fire:
This is a service which the Commissioners have publicly stated they wish to KEEP with the Miles City Fire and Rescue department. To quote Commissioner Gary Matthews "Miles City Fire are the BEST at wildland fire protection." He also said "If there were anything we would want to change, it would be more people. We'd like to have 30 more people available." So the misconception that the County wants to terminate their agreement with Miles City Fire is not accurate.

What is accurate, is that they want the contract to be SEPARATED from the interlocal agreement. In this way, it can be isolated from the aggregate "budget" figures - since it is a billed-on-demand service anyway. This request seems very reasonable to me.

------------------------

Administrative Fees:
This is an interesting and very NEW creature. Administrative fees were invented to address a concern that not all departments carried the same administrative burden. The administrative Department was it's own separate department which all other departments relied on for centralized services.

The creation of these fees was creation was quite controversial at the time - and remains so today. The controversy stems in part from the "Driving Force" behind it - the motive. It seems that the motive was retaliatory against a single group of departments. It would take 47 threads to cover that - you had to be there... In addition, the budgets were not comparably increased to cover these new fees which created a lot of angst.

I am personally not opposed to having admin fees. I think it is logical to conclude that different departments carry a different administrative burden. By "charing" admin fees, we are able to more accurately track those expenses. The creation of this mechanism is no different that adding a new account code in your own personal accounting book to track "Lawn Expense" and "Landscaping expense" separately. So long as the fractions are reasonably estimated and reviewed regularly, this concept holds water for me.

I am opposed to to the way this mechanism was instituted. Admin fees are, however, real - and if the Commissioners are expected to pay them, then we need to make sure their fraction is fair.

---------------------------------

Jail:
I think this is a valid concern. The City is in a compromising position with the other services. i.e. they are completely at the mercy of the County to pay their fair share to keep those services operating.

This is a case where the County is in the reverse position. If we are only charging by state statute to avoid the $50/day prisoner costs, then we are not being ethical. If we are in fact being fair about this, then how the jailer fees are collected needs to be evaluated and a new mechanism installed.

---------------------------------

Elections:
Gary Matthew brought up an interesting point - The City does not pay for City Elections which are by law administered by the County. This is one example of a service that is provided solely for the benefit of the City Residents. If this expense is due, then clearly it should be subtracted from the total owed by the County.

I would not mind seeing figures regarding this issue if someone would be willing to compile them.

--------------------------------

So, since everyone knows I'm willing to pound on either side. It thought it fair to pound on the City a little bit on these issues. While I am not happy with the overall performance of the Commissioners on this issue, it is important to understand that they actually do have valid concerns. They are charged with managing much larger budgets than the City alone, and they too must be responsible.

Hopefully this will provide some perspective not only on how these items could be contentious to begin with, but what WE DID as a City to earn their distrust. No, they have not used the word "distrust" that I am aware of, but let's be realistic about it. If they trusted the figures, they would have signed the agreement.

We need to learn from our past mistakes and move FORWARD. On some of these issues, we might still need to spend a little more time in the corner. On others, we can change our behavior now and get a satisfactory result for everyone.

------------------------

Next crushing topic - Gravel!
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Posted by Mayor (+136) 14 years ago
I'd first like to apologize to employees at Victory Insurance and members of the CCRVFD. My comment regarding "An Unsanitary Condition" has had the unintended consequence of casting both under a cloud of undeserved suspicion. My focus is the actions of the Commissioners and Mr. Zabrocki.

On that subject, I'm strongly encouraging the Star to review both the minutes of the Custer County Commission since May 1st, 2007, and the transcripts of the recent assault trial of County Fire Warden Derrick Rodgers, from which he was fully exonerated, and to investigate violations of open meeting, public participation, conflict-of-interest, and competitive bidding statutes.

Rick, you report that your friends in the County are disappointed that the City has "gone negative". The City is only acting in self-defense and I think most County residents understand that. The Commission, on the other hand, has embraced a slash & burn approach to the Interlocal by reverting to zero-based budgeting on an agreement that has been faithfully negotiated as far back as 1955.

If that's the preferred approach of the Commissioners, fine. But the City will hold them to the law and leverage the opportunity to negotiate a more realistic agreement based upon the following principle:

"There's no reasonable justification for anyone enjoying the benefit of essential services while not supporting those services by equal measure."
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Posted by Toni Lee Rentschler (+218) 14 years ago
Thank you to the addition information you have givin me. But to me it sounds a little like you are just picking and choosing what you want to be in the interlock agreement and what you might not want in the agreement. How are you choosing what you want in it and what you might not want in is?
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Posted by Eric Brandt (+842) 14 years ago
No time to write a full article tonight, but wait till you hear what the County did.

If you live outside the City Limits and would like an advance EMT to save your heart attack, then consider moving into town, because the Commissioners told the city they are no longer to provide Ambulance Services outside city limits.

More to follow, I'm sure.
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Posted by JOE WHALEN (+622) 14 years ago
The headline in tonight's paper should've read, "COMMISSIONERS PULL PLUG ON AMBULANCE AND WILDLAND FIRE PROGRAMS WITH CITY".

Instead, we got "COUNTY EYES PRIVATE AMBULANCE".

The article should've lead with, "Custer County Commissioners stunned Miles City officials during Interlocal Agreement negotiations on Wednesday afternoon by announcing that the County would no longer support ambulance service, emergency vehicle or haz-mat response outside the city limits . In addition, Commission Chair Jack Nesbit informed city officials that, beginning January 1st, Michael Preller will replace Miles City Fire Chief Derrick Rodgers as County Fire Warden, leaving the County without a Type III Incident Commander directing County wildland fire suppression efforts.

In short, Commissioner Nesbit announced a decision to contract with a private ambulance service operating out of Newcastle, WY.

CITY: When was this decision reached by the Commissioners? Was it reached during a public meeting? What was the vote? Was the contract put out to public bid?

COMMISSIONERS: No answer to all of the above. The agendas and the minutes of the Commission do not indicate that the issue was ever formally moved or brought to a vote.

CITY: What are the criteria used to select an ambulance service for the County?

Muttering and the shuffling of feet under the throne behind the big Commissioner's desk...

Have you seen the business plan of Newcastle Ambulance? Did you review their budget for Custer County?

More mumbling, exchanged bewildered glances between Commissioners, and the shuffling of feet.

CITY: Is the company licensed to operate in Montana?

COMMISSIONERS: Not yet. But we expect they will be in 30 days.

CITY: When do you expect to have the new service in-place?

COMMISSIONERS: We think we'll be ready by February 1st.

CITY: How many ambulance units does the service plan to have on stand-by in Custer County?

COMMISSIONERS: We don't know.

CITY: Well, what sort of response time can reasonably be expected within the County?

COMMISSIONERS: See, we've talked with Prairie County and Rosebud County and they've agreed to help us when they can.

CITY: Will EMTs be staffed around the clock? To what level are these EMTs trained and certified?

Commissioner Matthews: "I've checked this guy's references and they're just 'immaculate', 'impeccable'. They'll have Advanced Life Support capability and stuff.

And so it goes...

This is all deja vu to those of us who monitored the Midwest Fire Suppression bust last summer. The Commissioners decide to make a big splash with a creative 'solution' to the wildland fire 'problem'(?). They enlist the enthusiastic boosters at the Economic Development Council, shun those who ask for a reasonable accounting of references (Is a criminal background check too much to ask?), then very quietly terminate the contract at the end of the summer when the pipe dream's gone up in smoke.
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supporter
Posted by John Morford (+352) 14 years ago
Really professional Mr. Mayor - really professional
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Posted by Eric Brandt (+842) 14 years ago
Actually, Mayor, you're going a little light on the Commissioners regarding Midwest Fire Suppression.

The commissioners were very point-blank informed by SEVERAL experts that this guy was not a legitimate concern. There are STACKS of documentation on this guy. Matthews was flat out nasty to Chief Rogers and accused him of trying to stifle economic development.

At each turn, the number of people Midwest was to employ increased, from 20 to 30 to 40 to 50... From where are these fire fighters coming? Do we even have that much fire? Due Diligence studies? none.

Even the state offices here were warned by outside influences that this guy was a crook.

As they were basking in media glory, David of Midwest Fire - a financial felon, racked up huge debts building his fictitious empire. Debts both local and interstate. Several local businesses sued him. Many others just wrote it off. I actually think I am the only one who's suit was settled out of court, and there are new judgments against him.

He even hired people, one of whom left his job and moved to Miles City - only to discover that there was plenty of work, but no pay.

Recently, I was visited by an out-of-state investigation looking to extradite him for hundreds of thousands in "Criminal Deception"

So, did they take any expert advise? No, the king merely acted on his own power and squashed anyone who countered him. And then, to avoid embarrassment, quietly shrunk away hoping no one would notice.

Then they deceived the public at one meeting last week by saying that "Miles City Fire is the BEST wildland fire protection" and that they will continue to use the City for that. Then the pulled the plug without negotiation.

They've become good at it and I expect the same will happen here.

They have already admitted that they did not do any research regarding the Library before they were so zealous to dump the City's contract and sign on with them independently. (in fact, they NEVER even discussed this with he Library before doing it)

Then, in the same meeting, we wasted hundreds of dollars in public time to discuss $1,300 in gravel, which Matthews insisted they don't even use. The City agreed to drop it, then, and he persisted with he subject avoiding the issue at hand.

THEN, it turns out, this guy (Matthews) NEVER EVEN LOOKED INTO THE ISSUE and the road department ACTUALLY DID NEED OUR GRAVEL.

This sort of shoot first and ask questions later is despicable, and I for one hope that people get fired up about this and pressure them to make better decisions. My take is that the power has gone to their heads and they think they can act unilaterally without consequence.

There most certainly WILL be consequences - in this case, I think that DEATH will be that consequence. That is the death of an innocent victim outside city limits with say - a heart attack, or a major accident.

Unfortunately, these clowns will be out of office by then, and no one will be held accountable.

[This message has been edited by Eric Brandt (edited 12/28/2007).]
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supporter
Posted by Richard Bonine, Jr (+15285) 14 years ago
Eric: With regard to Midwest Fire Suppression, I agree that the county should have done due diligence before signing any contract.

On the other hand I understand how the commissioners could have been taken in by David from Midwest Fire Suppression. I met with him last summer to discuss the possibility of my company providing post-fire reclamation services. He had a rather impressive presentation, to the point of being annul. He certainly gave me the impression that he knew what he was doing. While his business plan may have been a little ambitious, it seemed like the kind economic growth that MC desperately needs. I left the meeting having learned more about fire suppression than I really wanted to know.

If my experience was like the commissioners, it would have been easy to believe that he was an expert and follow his recommendations. Again, the commissioners should have done their homework. But when you are told you can provide the same services for much less money and do it in away that supposedly will provide economic growth, it would be easy to commit to such a program.

In my case, I visited with one of the bankers in town after my meeting with David and based on that conversation figured out that I would need to be very careful in any business dealings.

[This message has been edited by Richard Bonine, Jr (edited 12/28/2007).]
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founder
supporter
Posted by Amorette Allison (+12212) 14 years ago
But when you are told you can provide the same services for much less money and do it in away that supposedly will provide economic growth, it would be easy to commit to such a program.

One of the basic rules of the world is if a proposition sounds too good to be true, it is. I'm lousy at business but even I know that. On the other hand, maybe those folks in Nigeria really will send me piles of money!
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Posted by J. Dyba (+1348) 14 years ago
Eric, just because someone is a fraud doesn't give you the right to be all rude about it... oh wait that only applies to me I guess.

[This message has been edited by J. Dyba (edited 12/28/2007).]
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Posted by Eric Brandt (+842) 14 years ago
No, it doesn't only apply to you Josh. You were attacking someone who YOU thought was a fraud. I was discussing REAL EXPERIENCES of local fraud and deception worth tens of thousands and hundreds of thousands in other areas. There is a difference between opinion and fact. Judgments are public record - go get some facts. Felonies are public records too, and a very simple background check takes care of that.

Richard:
You're right - he is very smooth. As far as I know, I am the only one who got paid. It took me a year, and a small claim - but he settled. There are others I know who have never received anything on their overdue debts. And I know of judgments against him directly. So several of us were taken by the guy too. I just got lucky.

Of course, doing a job for someone who doesn't pay is not nearly as big a deal as government officials and employees telling you the guy is a fraud and slapping them in the face with it.

I'm sure glad you got out of it.
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Posted by Max Cannon (+22) 14 years ago
Eric you done your homework here. I hope the city and county will listen. They are working for the tax payer. Nothing makes me more irritated then officials that have an ego and won't back down when they nave made a mistake...hmm. George wish you were listening to your advisors.

Max
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Posted by Steve Allison (+979) 14 years ago
Ok here is my 2 cents on the inter local agreement. As a resident of Miles City we pay both city and county taxes. Residents of the county pay only county. This means I have already paid my share of county supplied services. If I go to the county health office I have paid for it. According to the last census Pop of Custer County was 11696, the Pop of Miles City was 8487 or 72.6% of the county's population. To me this means that when the county provides services to the city, 72.6% has been paid for by city residents already, so for every $1,000 of city expense the city should pay $274.00 to county to reimburse expense not already paid by city residents. The reason city figures are so high is county residents pay no city taxes so for every $1,000.00 of city provided expense to the county the county owns $1,000.00. Now for county residents I would be asking a lot of questions of the commissioners about the quality of service their alternatives will provide. There is a big difference between the care an ambulance drive with a Red Cross card can legally provide when compared to an EMT. Make sure what your getting before they start signing contracts. Now this is just my opinion for what ever you might think it's worth.
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Posted by Tony Ackerman (+187) 14 years ago
Folks,

I'm going to build off of the last paragraph of Steve's post and pose a couple of questions. I ask that you give these serious thought before you respond.

What do you as a resident of Custer County / citizen of Miles City want to see happen to our community?

What level of service do you expect when it comes to public safety and what are you willing to settle for?

Before you start thinking that this is a sidetrack from the content of this thread, don't. These questions are relevant and I have a point that I'll follow through with, but first I want to see what others envision.
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Posted by BLT (+90) 14 years ago
I personally applaude the county and the commissioners. They are looking at options. We are breaking ourselves with cadillac services on one hand and nothing on the other. keep an open mind and let some people look and see how these things may play out.
Ambulance runs could be made much cheaper and still work very well. The numbers Steve uses are very simple and don't work in any economic system. Slow down and quit yelling let the preople who we elected work.

Bob Thomas
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Posted by Amorette Allison (+12212) 14 years ago
Have the commissioners verified that the private service is acceptable to major insurers and Medicare and Medicaid? What would the cost of a private run be compared to existing service? Will insurers cover the difference if they cover the service? Will there be certified EMTs on board or just guys with first aid cards? Will there be the same level of equipment as on current ambulances? What will the response time be? Where will the service be based? How will it be dispatched? The county lost money to a scam artist earlier this year because they did not do their homework. What assurances to we have that this is not another smooth-talking con man in action? If it is a legitimate service, do we have a guarantee that they will fulfill their obligations for a set contract? I was in Bozeman when Hall ambulance went under and they just shut up service with twenty-four hours notice, leaving the city in a lurch. What would happen if the contract was not profitable to the provider? What percentage profit is acceptable to the provider? He can't run it as a charity. How will the billing be handled? Who will handle the billing?

I could keep going but you get my point. These questions have NOT been answered and if my life were on the line, I would want them answered clearly and correctly.
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Posted by BLT (+90) 14 years ago
Whow,whow, whow, lets not get all excited. who know yet. You might get out there Steve and yourself and write a story. Oh yeah, you might have to leave the paper building to do that.
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Posted by David Schott (+17910) 14 years ago
Those are great questions, Amorette, and what strikes me as odd is that the county commissioners seem to have bought off on this Wyoming-based private ambulance service without getting answers to those questions. I hope I'm wrong about that. Also, did the County set performance criteria and request bids from private ambulance firms or just how did they come to select this Wyoming firm?

I have similar concerns about the appointment of Mike Preller as county fire warden. Was the position advertised? Were other candidates considered? What criteria were used to pick the candidate? Did the commission vote on the appointment, and, if so, when and what was the vote?

Surely I'm wrong but from what I've read on these newsgroups and in the Miles City Star it would appear that possibly County business is not being conducted in the most professional manner that is expected of government leaders.

The City already took a beating over unprofessional conduct in the last few years and I would hate to see the County make similar mistakes.

- Dave
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Posted by MattSmith (+57) 14 years ago
· Questions I have off the top of my head.

· How long have the County Commissioners researched & discussed this option for the ambulance service? {How much effort has been put into it?}

· What qualifications other than being elected to office do the county commissioners have in selecting an ambulance / medical service's for the taxpayers?

· What kind of agreement is in place with the hospital in regard to bringing patients to the emergency room?

· Have the county commissioners consulted an attorney in this matter? {Just a layman here but I think it would be prudent to have legal advice on this matter.}

· Who have the County Commissioners / New Ambulance Service hired to be the Medical Director of the new Ambulance Service? {What doctor is going to assume responsibility?}

· Is it a good idea in the short term to have a volunteer service be our only source of ambulance service for Custer County?

· Have the County Commissioners put this contract out for competitive bid? {Do they need to?}

· Have the County Commissioner's consulted their constituents regarding this matter?

· Which County Commissioner came up with this idea?

· How long till we have to the next election?

· Please forgive me if I have asked a question that has been answered already, I do not get the Star.

Regards,

Matt Smith
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Posted by nancy gilbertson (+24) 14 years ago
Just so Tony and others know, Southgate is within the city limits.
We just sneak in and out of town on the State highway.
Happy New Year and Peace...
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Posted by Amorette Allison (+12212) 14 years ago
Whether I am in or out of the Star building--and since I don't actually work there, I am usually out--has nothing to do with my concerns about whether the county commissioners are legally and with due diligence solving the problems with the interlocal agreement. Should my questions be answered satisfactorily, I will be delighted! If the commissioners can prove that their alternatives will work, more power to them. But I want to be sure and so far, the information we have been given about the situation with the ambulance is inadequate.

[This message has been edited by Amorette Allison (edited 12/31/2007).]
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Posted by Gunnar Emilsson (+17949) 14 years ago
<channeling the voice of Walter Brennan> Well....I think the County Commish'ners oughtter form a posse, and head down to that dadgum hippie book store right now, and ask those folks what they be meanin' ta do to the poor ranchers and folks who don't live in the city. Dadgummit! Its not fair what to do what they'n do'n ta hard workin' folks that are tryin' to do was right!"
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Posted by MT MAN (+31) 14 years ago
Thats Funny. Hahahahahahaaaa Looks to me the involved parties can't see the forest for the trees. Not unusual I think in small town politics. Alot of talk, little action, and anybody in their right mind would not get involved as anybody who actually wants to accomplish something is going to get shot down regardless of the viability of their solution(s) as the ego's involved would not allow that to happen unless it was owned by them. A really astute diplomat would create ownership by the opposition with subtle cues and step away and give them ownership.
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Posted by Richard Bonine, Jr (+15285) 14 years ago
I think it must be something in the air. Here in Gillette we have our own joint powers fire board issues. I should go take a picture of our new "Taj-ma-fire hall". Sometimes too much money in local government is a problem.
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Posted by Cory Cutting (+1270) 14 years ago
Richard, I was by that new building on Sunday, that is quite an amazing space for a FD. I really can't believe that they need that much space. Isn't that department volunteer?
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Posted by john w caylor (+87) 14 years ago
BLT Could you explain what you classify cadillac services assuming you mean the ambulance. for example with or with-out tires ect... Question #2 To anybody that might have an answer When the new less expensive service arrives will we as tax-payers be seeing a decrease in our taxes.

[This message has been edited by john w caylor (edited 1/1/2008).]
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Posted by Deadeye (+32) 14 years ago
Keep in mind folks, the system in place up to this point was by no meaens broken, and took many years to build to a productive level.

No alternative cost evaluation has been presented. What is occuring is your lives are being put at risk with no apparent reasoning at all other than to satisfy egos and faces that weren't even challenged to begin with.

A sad state of affairs.
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Posted by JOE WHALEN (+622) 14 years ago
Accepting the suggestion of the editor of the Miles City Star, I've called a Town Meeting to discuss the Interlocal Agreement with taxpayers and ratepayers in both the City and the County at 7 p.m., Monday, January 15th in the old auditorium (rooms 316, 317, 323) at Miles Community College.

Publisher Dan Killoy has agreed to moderate the discussion, which will include opening statements, questions from the public, and closing statements.

I also intend to invite the Custer County Commissioners to join us so that we all enjoy an informative and full-throated forum.

If we haven't burned you out on the subject yet, we hope to see you there.
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Posted by Dan (+461) 14 years ago
interesting poll, not suprised by the results - if the commissioners have done their homework they have not done a very good job communicating with the public??
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Posted by GJ (+25) 14 years ago
Michael,
I can see that in the last couple of years you haven't changed much. Addressing the mayor in a childish way is really professional and adult like. Lets' get the facts straight on the softball fields. According to the commisioners of the softball association, they used a grant and money from the association to repair damages from the baseball teams and upgrade the softball fields. Those field were designed for just that...softball. The reason the you were denied the use of the fields is that they were reserved for the summer for the league for games and practices. The Guard for the pitcher is owned by one of the teams not by the city. The batting cage is owned privatly as well. So dont get upset with the mayor over being denied use of the softball fields when you group didn't pay for the repairs. You should find out the entire story before you threaten descrimination....
Speaking of descrimination, You know all to well about that subject dont you? Didn't CCRVFC have to go through some classes because of denying a female volunteer the same operatunities as the men?

Dont get me wrong here, I do believe that you do a good job in your profession, but I have a hard time with the fact that every time that I have come in to get information from you, your not there. I'm sure that all of you meetings with the commisioners isnt over lunch breaks. I have been at the court house over my lunch hour to talk to the commissioners over other concearns and guess what? They are on their break as well! So who's time are you on? Who's adgenda are you looking out for, the publics or your own.

I think that both fire groups do a good job, but are the volunteers going to be able to take the amount of time needed away from their jobs without it effecting their income? Both of us have been stuck at a wildland fire that could have cost us a weeks worth of pay, Luckily our boss wrote it off as a community service.... Most companies wont... I'm not doubting your groups dedication and wonderful volunteerism, but if any of the employees at my company have to choose between serving their comunity for free or feeding their families... You probably wont have many volunteers on a daily basis.

I am not upset with either fire service group. I think that they do a good job of assisting the public. What I am upset about is the fact that we have a group of igotistical elected officials that believe that they can make decisions for the community with out the general pubics'concensus or even opening it up to the public to address their concearns. We have an county sanitarial that as far as I know has little to no training or experience with emergency situations being in charge of all services pushing the issues for his own political adgenda. Did you ever hear of the saying: "if its not broke, dont fix it" This seams to be case to me.

I as a taxpayer,and part of the 72% that reside in Miles city do not believe that we need to pay for 2 ambulance services or another entity coming in to fight wildfires when the 2 current services provide more than aduquate coverage. I haven't had time to research this, but didn't the community already go through a private ambulance service before? Didn't that service lose money and leave, thus forcing the city fire department to respond by adding that service? Correct me if I am wrong, but I amd seeing that history is going to probably repeat itself again and at the cost of the tax payers, not the ones that made the decision without our concent. I am sure that I wont see the commisioners or city council paying the bills out of their own personal accounts. Just like I didn't see Butch footing the bill for his mistakes, or the commisioners repaying their losses from the Midwest scandal. What a concept, Gov't officials taking reponsibility for their actions out of their own income.

On the other hand, and this is just my opinion, but if we do combine the city and county govenrments we could come up with extra funds by eliminating some county commissioners/city council members and duplicate buildings. Use the funds to improve roads, sewage system, water system, etc. That, I think that all taxpayers would endorse and enjoy. Imagine a county road that you could actually drive down without having to get a re-alignment on your vehicle. How about paving some of the major roads in the county along repaving some of the city streets. Just an Idea. But of course I am not educated since I am not a fifth generation Miles Citizen. I am an international traveler and have lived in large cities and small ones as well in different parts of the country. On a recent trip to Calgary, I watched a road crew completly scrape, repave and repair/replace the curbing in three days, not 3 weeks to a month like on Montana street,( curbing only). The county roads in Rosebud county are in way better shape than Custer County's.
Bottom line here is that
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Posted by Buck Showalter (+4459) 14 years ago
But it's not childish to say something like that - honestly - has the Tongue River been further poisoned? Idiots are coming out of the woodwork.
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Posted by john w caylor (+87) 14 years ago
Thank you Mayor for the detailed breakdown on 12/17/07. I have been waiting to see if any county commissioner would honor us with an explanation on the counties behalf. To date, I have not seen one. The meeting is coming up very shortly which I plan to attend. It seems that they lucked out on an embarrassing situation with MFS by not doing their research. I would hope that the situation that is happening now has had more research done by the county. I cannot see where 2 of the same entities will benefit anybody in our community. It seems already we have added one more salary in the way of a wildland coordinator? How many more salaries are we going to have to absorb? There are many questions unanswered by the commissioners.
1) To what level of professionalism will the county offer in emergency response? ExampleBy replacing an IC-3 with no salary with a fire team only qualified individual with a salary?)
2) What will it cost or save compared to the current system in place?
3) Is their way of doing business by not publisizing public meetings a normal way for them to do business?
I know these questions have been probably asked a thousand times. But it seems to me that our county commissioners do not care what our opinions are because as of yet have not responded to any questions asked on this site. I would hope that any answer I get will be as factual as the one you gave and Tony has given and not an opinion. Because at this point, opinions are mute. Thank You
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Posted by Amorette Allison (+12212) 14 years ago
I believe the meeting date was changed to Tuesday the 15th due to a conflict with the use of the room at MCC. Check the paper to be sure!
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Posted by john w caylor (+87) 14 years ago
Thank you Amorette i will verify meeting time
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Posted by cbadnmb2001 (+35) 14 years ago
I am hoping that the elected officials realize what they are doing to the city and county population, at this point I am sure they do not care, seems to me thier little EGOS are all they care about! I would suggest to all that they attend this meeting then we will finally have the real truth.
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Posted by Mayor (+136) 14 years ago
Amorette's correct. Not only is Monday not the 15th but the Toastmaster's Club has secured the rooms for Monday night. So, the meeting is officially booked for 7 p.m., Tuesday, January 15th in rooms 316, 317, & 323 at MCC.

The Commissioners were invited last week but they've not responded yet. On the other hand, I have it good authority that they monitor this thread on a daily basis.

The City Council hopes that as many city & county residents as possible will turn out for the meeting.
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Posted by Tony Ackerman (+187) 14 years ago
I'm going to try to get people to focus on just one of the questions I posed earlier and expound upon it a bit. The parties involved in this effort do need the feedback, here's a chance to give it.

What level of service do you expect when it comes to public safety and what are you willing to settle for?

Ambulance and Rescue:
Do you expect full time professional ambulance service?

Is a part time paid ambulance service acceptable?

What level of training and experience is acceptable to you for an ambulance service?
(EMT, BLS, ALS?)
(no/limited experience, 1 yr experience, 5 yrs experience, more?)
http://www.nimsonline.com...round).htm

Wildland and outside city limits structure fire suppression:
Do you expect full time professional fire suppression service?

Is a part time paid / volunteer fire suppression service acceptable?

What level of training and experience is acceptable to you for an fire suppression service?
(Type 5 IC qualification, Type 4 IC qualification, Type 3 IC qualification, Type 2 IC qualification? (lesser to greater skill scale))
(no/limited experience, 1 yr experience, 5 yrs experience, more?)
http://www.nimsonline.com...ghting.htm


Tony
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Posted by Dan (+461) 14 years ago
Tony-
It is also pertinent for the IC to have resources available. I think that is an important consideration, not just who is in charge but what resources are they going to have available to them?
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Posted by Tony Ackerman (+187) 14 years ago
A pertinent and well made point Dan.

To some extent, the resources that are made available are related to the level of the IC that is on-site at the incident. To a greater extent, the level of the IC determines what resources that person is allowed to command.
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Posted by Roxanna Brush (+123) 14 years ago
Tony,
What are the requirements to license or insure an ambulance? I would think that the people who are running the ambulance still have to make sure they hire qualified employees to avoid being sued. What do you mean by part time?
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Posted by MRH (+1527) 14 years ago
Hi Tony,

It would certainly be nice if you would write out the positions you are writing about rather than using acronyms. I, for one, do not have a clue to what you are referring. Thanks for the help.

Marshall Haferkamp
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Posted by Levi Forman (+3710) 14 years ago
My fireman classes are a few years back by now, but I think IC refers to "incident commander".
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Posted by john w caylor (+87) 14 years ago
Incident commander (IC) is the officer at the top of the incident chain of and is in overall charge of the incident.The IC is ultamitly responsible for everything that takes place at the emergencey scene. ( reference essentials of firefighting fourth edition ) Here are some more facts i was able to find

1) Last year the county paid the city $40,954 for full time ambulance protection in the county. That is the most they have ever paid. In the fiscal years of 96-98 they payed $30,000 and has steadily increased approx 2.75% over 10 years. As we all know nothing costs the same now as it did 10 years ago.

2) The county is willing to pay a private ambulance service $100,000 constant annual subsidy for a paid on call staff. A paid on call service means that the individuals that will be responding to 911 calls will only be paid when they are on call. They will have to respond from wherever they are to the ambulance and then go to the incident. Precious time out of the golden hour.

3) The county has signed a contract to pay CCRVFC $70,000/yr for structure fire protection & limited wildland protection. Previosly custer county residents had a choice to subscribe to CCRVFC or to contract with MCFR. If neither was chosen CCRVFC would respond anyway and the homeowners insurance company would be billed. This cost the county nothing.

4) The county is going to pay for a full-time fire director for an unknown amount. A position that was done by qualified persons for an administration fee of $2,366.16 a year.

5)The county has paid the city an average of $25,054 per year for wages in wildland fire suppression over the last ten years. This provided full-time and part paid qualified fire fighters responding to wildland incidents. Admin and maintenace fees are included in this cost. It will cost at least that for a full time position, not to mention the wages of the people that are going to fight these fires. Also the cost of training these new firefighters.

Last year there were 136 county ambulance calls . 75 of them were no transports at the cost of $0.00

Have a nice day,
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Posted by Dan (+461) 14 years ago
What is the reson for the county terminating the fire and ambulance contract with the city? Do they anticipate saving money? Are they unhappy with the services they have received? Did they advertise (do they legally have to??) for the positions they are hiring and the contracts they are letting?
I really know nothing of the situation but on the surface it seems there are some personal agendas coming into play here?
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Posted by Cory Cutting (+1270) 14 years ago
From reading the Star on-line today (the update is slow, but at least it's happening!) I think that if the entire county isn't there at that meeting tomorrow, you are all crazy. This thing has gotten way out of hand. The commissioners are just willy-nilly making decisions! They aren't even thinking this through. You all need to go and create a scene over this!

(I'd go, but the commute will kill me!)
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Posted by john w caylor (+87) 14 years ago
County appoints county fire chief, assistants

By Joseph Boushee
Custer County Commissioners have rescinded two county fire chief/ warden positions formerly filled by city firefighters, and appointed a county rural fire chief and several assistant chiefs.
As a result, the action removes Miles City Fire and Rescue Chief Derrick Rodgers from the post of County Rural Fire Chief/Fire Warden and Miles City Fire and Rescue Battalion Chief Tod Miller from the role of Assistant Rural Fire Chief/Deputy Fire Warden.
Rodgers said in an interview Friday that with the new appointments, the county loses its connections to Miles City Fire and Rescue in all forms of fire suppression activity, including wildland fires, Hazmat response and vehicle fires.
The fire warden is responsible for all the fire operations in the county, but the warden also plays a part in training, safety and equipment, among several other duties.
The commissioners outlined the fire resolutions in a special public meeting on Dec. 31. Both county resolutions went into effect Jan. 1.
Resolution #2008-23 rescinds "current and previous County Rural Fire Chief/Fire Warden and Assistant Rural Fire Chiefs/Deputy Fire Wardens."
It passed unanimously.
"...It pretty much cleans the slate over the years," explained Custer County Sanitarian/DES coordinator Jim Zabrocki at the public meeting. "We really haven't had any formal appointments for the county fire warden or rural fire chief, and this will pretty much rescind all the previous ones and start with a clean slate."
By separate resolution, #2008-24, also unanimous, the commissioners installed Michael Preller as county rural fire chief, and named Bud Peterson assistant chief, followed by second assistant chief Buddy LaBree, third assistant chief Dave Hoenke and fourth assistant chief Tim Hatcher.
Preller is also chief of the Custer County Rural Volunteer Fire Company.
The county's actions precede an upcoming resolution that, if passed, would create a Custer County Fire Department. The resolution is on the county's agenda for Thursday, Jan. 10 at 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.
"We could probably debate these issues ... all day," Commissioner Gary Matthews said. "I do know that tonight (midnight, Dec. 31) at 12 o' clock, that there is a possibility that this resolution, that was passed by the city, (Resolution #3194) could leave Custer County not protected. The most prudent thing is to make sure that we have people outside the city limits protected."
The city's Resolution #3194, approved by the Miles City Council, gave Mayor Joe Whalen the authority to terminate or suspend city services to the county any time after midnight on Dec. 31. That was in response to an impasse in negotiations with the county regarding the Interlocal Agreement. The mayor has not yet cut any services to the county. Furthermore, before any emergency services are cut, the mayor would provide 30 days notice.
"I regret that the commissioners have decided to terminate the agreement with the Miles City fire department ... I think it's a huge mistake," Rodgers said at the meeting.
"I would ask that before any more contracts are signed, eliminating the city and county cooperation for fire or ambulance coverage, that you would sit back down to the table and talk about this. It's not insurmountable," Rodgers said.
"Miles City fire has never said that we did not want to work with the county. We have tried to talk through these issues, and I think the public should be aware of what is going on here. It's been very, very quiet until just very recently, and that's not right."
More public comments from the meeting will be featured in a later edition.
Iguess we have 3 fire departments 1. CCRVFC 2.MCFR 3.And the new kid CCFD with 1 cheif 4 assistant cheifs and not to forget 2 ambulance services. 2008 looks like a good year for taxes
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Posted by LG (+194) 14 years ago
Sounds like retaliation to me. Maybe Zabrocki's still upset. But that still is no reason to ruin our county for us.
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Posted by john w caylor (+87) 14 years ago
Amen
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Posted by GJ (+25) 14 years ago
What are the reasons that the county has to have their own fire department? Are they dissolving the CCRVFC? Precious time is exactly that. How precious are your loved ones? Can they wait for those extra few minutes for someone to drive clear across town to get the ambulance and then respond? In town might not be as big of an issue but to go out to the county every second counts, especially when then condition of the roads is so bad, lack road signs as in the case of Moon Creek or Govt Hill areas. Remember that this service may bring new faces to the area that dont know it. At least the City has an immediate response time not 5 to ten minutes to even get to the hall. If they are going to be only paid for the time that they respond then what else are are thye going to do for income? They will have to leave their normal jobs, just like the volunteers... I know that their times average 5- 10 minutes to even get to the hall, Too bad that the county doesnt listen to the ones that pay for their bills (taxes). I think that they call it a violation of the law? Isnt a requirement by law, as stated earlier in the forum, for them to open this up to public opinion and input? I think that it should be up to the voters to settle this and not to just the commisioners. In order to tke on these expences without having to raise taxes means that Something else is going to suffer... Schools, roads, whats it going to be? If we allow them to run with out a leash here soon, what will be next? $500 toilet seats?

Did these jobs/operatunities go up for bid or application? Knowing what I know about the court house politics/ antics I highly doubt it. Its pretty obvoius that we the tax payers arnt going to get the biggest bang for our tax dollar. I would expect big increases in your taxes in the next couple of years. What are our options to get control of the over spending?
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Posted by Deadeye (+32) 14 years ago
Rest assured folks, the county is looking into E-bay bids to cover our ambulannce and fire control. Trust the county, everything will be fine... It's the best deal. Really. It's all ok.
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Posted by Eric Brandt (+842) 14 years ago
There are over 10,000 people, whose lives will be directly and adversely affected by these decisions.

This situation can only serve to further destabilize the existing services we have now. I think this may be a specific agenda of the commissioners - slash at the city's emergency crews hard enough to cause them to collapse, then move in completely with inferior services.

These life and death consequences will go by... un-noticed...


So, how many people showed up at the game tonight? A few hundred? Maybe more?

How many will show up on the 15th?

What's more important to you? A kid's game, or death? The public will decide, and I predict the turn-out will be abysmal. Why? Because I am skeptical that there is more than 0.5% of our population who will take this issue seriously and attend. I think that most of our population will decide that public safety is simply not in their best interests and let it skate by them. And for the rest, they will simply decide to bury their heads in the sand and let it all go away.

It will all go away, and the problem will resolve itself - after, and only after, enough people have died to earn that respect.

I predict that less than 200 people will show up. That's less than 0.5% of our community. Frankly, that means the other 99% deserve to suffer for their lack of interest.

And suffer they will, when they are gulping their last breaths, waiting... waiting... waiting... While only 3 blocks away, perfectly qualified services sit by silently... listening... waiting... for that last gasp of air finally escaping...

nothing...

Oh no... don't feel for them - they earned their fate... they asked to die this way... they chose their end on January 15th...




.
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Posted by Tony Ackerman (+187) 14 years ago
Marshall, Roxanna, answers to your questions follow.

Marshall:
IC - Incident commander.
John W. Caylor has provided a very good definition of the responsibilities of the IC. The link below provides a brief description of the responsibilities of the differing levels of Incident Commander with references to where greater detail is outlined.
http://www.nimsonline.com...ghting.htm

CFR - Certified First Responder
EMT - Emergency Medical Technician
BLS - Basic Life Support
ALS - Advanced Life Support

These articles in Wikipedia gives an basic overview of the differences in these service levels that are reasonably accurate:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Certified_first_responder
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emergency_medical_technician

Roxana:
Montana requires a minimum staffing of two people in an ambulance, with minimum training requirements of 1 EMT (ambulance certified) and one certified first responder. These are the legal requirements to operate a licensed and qualified ambulance service in Montana. The link below provides some description that outlines the differences between Ambulance service levels.
http://www.nimsonline.com...round).htm

"Part paid" is a term that describes a person who works part time for a service and is paid for their time on duty for that service.

I've tried to provide brief and accurate descriptions and I hope that I've helped answer your questions. I'll gladly stand corrected if my statements are in error or incomplete and someone else provides more accurate or a more complete description.

Tony
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Posted by Cory Cutting (+1270) 14 years ago
I think that everyone should read this link to the U of M School of Law and consider filing a law suit in District Court regarding the open meeting law.

The commissioners have made the decision to drastically change services to the county without having meetings where the public knew that they could make comments. Just having a regular meeting without letting the public know what important items are on the agenda, i believe, violates this law. However, according to the inforamtion, someone has to file a case in District Court within 30 days.

The site notes: "Section 3 Right of Participation. The public has the right to expect government agencies to afford such reasonable opportunity for citizen participation in the operation of the agencies prior to the final decision as may be provided by law."

The decision has already been made and the public was not notified until after the fact.

Someone needs to step up here and put a stop to this. I would do it happily, but the argument of me not living there would probably be valid. How about the ACLU? Or are they too busy defending killers?

link:

http://www.umt.edu/journa...tings.html
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Posted by poisonspaghetti (+279) 14 years ago
You must understand, the ACLU is far too busy pursuing Mr. Monington's complaints against the Webmaster and Eric Brandt to be concerned about something as trivial as Montana's open meeting laws.
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Posted by Eric Brandt (+842) 14 years ago
The place one would want to go is the Montana Freedom of Information Attorneys. This is a group of attorneys who help defend freedom of information, and particularly open meetings and records.

I have a copy of the Freedom of Information Deskbook at the office which I will let anyone reference. There are several case law examples of various events around the state. There is also contact information should someone wish to pursue something. Some of these attorneys will do a lot of the leg work pro-bono making it reasonably easy for the lay person to be properly represented.

Some of the basics:
You must protect your rights within 30 days of the event.
You have three years following the initial filing to serve your case.
While some financial reimbursement is possible as part of a judgment, the only other real consequences are invalidation or reversal of the decisions made.

The public prefers case law to legislation, so you would be doing the public a service, and courts know this and will often include compensation in the judgment.

If one is interested, they could contact me for more information.

Eric
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Posted by Matt Smith (+792) 14 years ago
BUMP
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Posted by City County Resident (+58) 14 years ago
For example, is it reasonable to expect that NO county people will use Riverside Park? Can we bar county residents from ambulance services? Should we place a restriction at the library that only city residents can borrow books? What of MCC? Water? Sewer?

Better get your facts straight...MCC is funded by a COUNTY levy.
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Posted by john w caylor (+87) 14 years ago
Man CCR you really don,t have a clue or you don,t pay taxes do you
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Posted by Big Dave (+433) 14 years ago
Question for someone who knows the answer.

What is the total annual budget for MCFD and EMS and what is their appropriation from the city?

Probably enumerated in here somewhere, but I'm too lazy to search.

Thanks in advance.

Big Dave
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Posted by Bart Freese (+936) 14 years ago
I have no idea about the park issue, but heads up cartoonists. I see an opportunity here tied to your typical park signage.
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Posted by MRH (+1527) 14 years ago
Hi Bart,

Speaking of cartoons, I hope everybody looks at the editorial cartoon in Friday's Miles City Star. I think someone may be poking at Miles City a bit. Hope you have a good weekend and stay warm.

Marshall Haferkamp
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